By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK More than 16 000 Namibians have succumbed to HIV-related complications since the first case was detected in the country in 1986. With over 250 000 people infected with the virus, it is clear that HIV/Aids is the leading cause of death in Namibia. Even though the Government has over the years put in place programmes to address the HIV/Aids pandemic by providing anti-retroviral treatment (ART) and through the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMCT), more still needs to be done by ordinary Namibians to take care of those infected and bedridden in their communities, particularly at the grassroots level where hospitals and clinics are far between. Close to 30 Home Based Carers from the Andara community in the north are undergoing a four-week training of trainers course being held by the Johanniter-Hilfswerk in Namibia. Though a separate week-long course was already held in Mukwe in the Kavango Region from November until December last year, the remaining three weeks of training in home-based care officially started in Windhoek yesterday. Officially opening the course for the Mukwe Development Group, the Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting Raphael Dinyando stressed the importance of such training, which he felt will go a long way in addressing the pressing challenges associated with the pandemic. “If HIV/Aids cannot be brought under control Namibia might be locked in a vicious cycle, because HIV/Aids has got an impact on the health sector, households, the youth, education, life expectancy and on the economy,” Dinyando stated. He appealed to young home-based caregivers to remain proactive and effective in carrying out their work in rural communities, while at the same time breaking down traditional taboos that are associated with sex. Dinyando also expressed concern over the fact that anti-retrovirals are still too expensive for most of those infected. However, this is being addressed through the Government’s rolling out of the ARVs at different state hospitals in the country. “The budget of Government will spend more on HIV/Aids, rather than on other social concerns like sanitation. Our big budget will therefore go towards HIV/Aids,” he added. Speaking at the same occasion, Regional Councillor of Windhoek East Constituency Mwadina Muashekele-Sibiya urged the participants to address the challenge of using the theory and skills they acquire in the course and turn it into action at an “unprecedented intensity and rate”, making home-based care a top priority. The entire training course is being sponsored by UNAIDS under the Small Grants Fund at a value of N$255 000. During the next three weeks, participants will undergo training in counselling, care, positive living, Aids-related diseases like tuberculosis, sexually transmitted diseases and alcoholism and HIV/Aids.
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