By Michael Liswaniso OPUWO The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, with financial support from the Global Fund Programme, has ended its first phase of a five-day training workshop on Social Mobilization for Communicators which was underway in Oshakati, in the Oshana Region. The workshop which targeted to equip communicators and other human resource practitioners with basic knowledge on how to enhance information dissemination with a view to changing the behaviour of communities with regard to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, was officially inaugurated by the Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Raphael Dinyando, on October 30 and officially closed by the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, last Friday. The second phase of the same workshop which will end on Friday is currently underway at the Oshakati Guest Hotel. It was officially inaugurated yesterday by Oshana Regional Governor, Clemens Kashuupulwa. Minister Ndaitwah asked all participants to plough back into their respective workplaces the knowledge attained in an effort to mitigate the pandemic. She also thanked the ‘distinctive’ facilitators comprising Fednedy Kabunga Elizabeth Kalombo M’ule, Bastian Swartz, Rachel Basirika and Brain Goercke. “For the facilitators from different partner organizations, I am most appreciative of your willingness to come and share your expertise with us at this workshop.” She said HIV/AIDS is no longer a health issue but an economic, social and security issue that is affecting the demographic levels of the country, adding that the impact is far more devastating than ever imagined. “The epidemic is currently wiping out development gains at an alarming rate, decreasing life expectancy, increasing child mortality, orphaning millions, setting back the situation of women and children, and threatening to undermine national security in highly affected societies.” She warned that AIDS in Namibia and elsewhere was killing reproductive sections of society which the society relies on to develop a nation, hence the need for social mobilization to alleviate and level the playing ground. “Knowledge is power and, taking into account that the media has power to change communities’ behaviour, my belief is that we are going to be serious and dedicate ourselves to this noble task. We need to take HIV/AIDS as a public health story at all times,” she emphasized. Equally, participants were also accorded the opportunity to pen their recommendations which, among them, most recommended the establishment of Information Education Communications (IEC) material centres in the regions as well community radio stations which they cited are vital tools in spreading the messages very fast in ensuring that the scourge be communicated and alleviated. In response to the recommendations, the Minister acknowledged taking the recommendations seriously and promised to give attention to all that was penned, as it deserves, while in the same front line she said she would do all in her power to continue collaboration and engage other partners in the fight against HIV/AIDS.