By Surihe Gaomas WINDHOEK Almost every second mother delivering a baby in the Caprivi Region is HIV positive. Although Namibia’s HIV prevalence rate currently stands at 19,4 percent, the infection rate of this pandemic has hit harder in some regions of the country. For instance, while the prevalence rate in the Kunene Region is less than 10 percent, the Caprivi is said to be standing at an alarming rate of over 40 percent. From this perspective, the HIV/Aids pandemic is a constant threat to the development of the country. Hence, the education sector, through the Ministry of Education, is continuously playing a crucial role in fighting this disease. Minister of Education Nangolo Mbumba yesterday launched Aids Awareness Week in conjunction with the HIV and Aids Management Unit (HAMU) website. Addressing a well-attended event, Mbumba said the country’s human capital, especially the economically active citizens, is being eroded by HIV/Aids. Thus prevention efforts to control the fast spread of the disease must be implemented. “We need to inform and educate our people by having a strong commitment and warn them on the serious dangers this disease can have to their health, life and progress of our country,” explained Mbumba while addressing teachers, learners and other interested members at the launch in Windhoek yesterday. The Aids Awareness Week, which runs from the 19th to the 23rd of this month, is part of the ministry’s efforts to sensitise the youth and teachers alike about the dangers of the pandemic and how to prevent it in the first place. Through a broad-based approach with representatives from the United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF), the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture, the Education Ministry strives to achieve this goal. This is currently being carried out through the Ministry’s HIV and Aids Management Unit (HAMU) which also launched its new website. Management wants to maintain HIV/Aids issues in their daily operations by using existing policies and frameworks on National Policy on HIV/Aids in the education sector. HAMU was established to respond to the challenges in the policy paper, while at the same time co-ordinating the training of teachers who take care of orphans and vulnerable children. Mbumba noted that the newly-launched website (www.hamu-net.na) is viewed as a “innovative tool that supports the management of HAMU in the regions. HAMU also co-ordinates teacher training on prevention, treatment, care and support and workplace programmes. The Minister stressed that all Namibians must get rid of all forms of stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV/Aids. “We have no excuse for this prejudice, because we know how HIV/Aids is spread. This prejudice only reflects upon our own insecurity and fear”, added Mbumba, who, at the end of his speech, lit a candle on behalf of all Namibians infected and affected by HIV/Aids. Speaking at the same occasion, the officer in charge of programmes at UNICEF, Rushnan Murtaza, said the challenge is on everyone to “gear up the situation of orphans and vulnerable children and in keeping them in schools.” She added that the new website should be used as an effective advocacy tool. Under the spirit of Education for All, every child needs a teacher to unite against HIV and Aids. Deputy Minister of Education Dr Becky Ndjoze-Ojo said that as “foot soldiers of education, we need teachers to create a conducive environment for our learners.” Education and knowledge is power and it is only through spreading the skills and knowledge about HIV/Aids that the battle against this pandemic can be effectively addressed she said. The event ended off with moving performances and cultural dances from various school children.
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