By John Ekongo
A two-day national conference of organisations involved in HIV/Aids education and prevention that has just ended, has recommended the enhancement of Aids network organisations’ productivity in order to tackle the pandemic.
The conference, under the auspices of the Namibia Network of Aids Service Organisation (NANASO), brought together close to 200 non-governmental organisations, community-based organisations, church and faith-based organisations as well as civil society.
The meeting aimed at finding new ways of inter-cooperation and better coordination between the various groups involved in the fight against HIV/Aids in Namibia.
Addressing participants, Kahijoro Kahuuure, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, said the conference is an opportunity for various AIDS service organisations to properly consult and discuss among themselves issues and challenges facing the country in the area of HIV/AIDS.
Kahuure opined that the country is still hard hit by the pandemic, and it is necessary that all potential role players get on board and not only Government.
“We know that not all stakeholders are as yet fully active in the area of HIV/Aids – we need to scale up our efforts,” he stressed.
Concerns have been raised in the past over the operations of Aids service organisations, which appear to be duplicating one another. It is believed that this happens because of lack of proper communication and coordination between networks.
He cautioned that stakeholders should make sure that “no duplication of functions should come about” as this is tantamount to a waste of resources.
The permanent secretary said the best way to scale up efforts in fighting the pandemic is when “stakeholders foster community-based initiatives that will foster grassroots interventions and impact mitigation”.
Doing so would ensure a healthy Namibia and a reduction of HIV/Aids prevalence rates.
Kahuure is worried about the increase in the disease as highlighted in the Sero-Sentinel Survey of 2006-2007 – despite the availability of anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs).
“ARV treatment is now available in most parts of the country, however what is worrying is that the sero-sentinel survey of 2006 shows an increase. This result might provoke a question in our minds, ‘Why?'”
This he said can only be addressed correctly if strategies and changes are made to suit the needs of communities and to ensure that “there is a holistic approach to interventions”.
“As long as we delay our adjusted efforts and clearly link the interrelated issues of HIV/AIDS, we will never see the expected result. We must strive for excellence and success and ensure that all stakeholders are part and parcel of information development before we disseminate it,” said Kahuure.