By Charles Tjatindi
The Governor of the Erongo Region, Samuel Nuuyoma has criticised mayors in the region for their apparent lack of commitment towards the District AIDS Committees (DAC). The mayors head their respective district AIDS committees as chairpersons.
Nuuyoma was speaking at a recent ordinary Regional Council meeting at the coastal town, where he addressed mayors representing various municipalities within the region. As chairperson of the Regional AIDS Coordinating Committees (RACOC), Nuuyoma rapped the mayors for not showing enough commitment to the DAC in their capacity as chairpersons. According to the Erongo Governor, such tendencies have the potential of rolling back progress made in the field of HIV/AIDS awareness, education and mitigation.
He said the mayors had not delivered on declarations they made upon being sworn in to contribute to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
“Your promise to the nation does not reflect your actions in your towns. It is high time that you adhere to the commitments which you have pledged to undertake in your declarations,” he said.
Nuuyoma reminded the mayors that the DACs formed an integral part of the region’s contribution to the country’s efforts in fighting the spread of HIV and AIDS, and should therefore not be neglected. He urged Mayors to work hard and enhance efforts and contribution to their respective DACs.
“You simply don’t care enough. You just don’t care. Your declarations to fight the pandemic have become zero. We need to improve on that,” he told the mayors.
According to a recent assessment by the Technical AIDS Committee (TAC) of 13 towns in the Erongo Region, the DAC lacks structural organization, understanding and commitment from some members. The assessment was conducted during the period of March to April this year. The assessment revealed that all 13 DAC Committees operating in the region show deficiencies and neglect in carrying out their activities.
The DACs are expected to organize activities that center around the mitigation of HIV/AIDS in relevant districts and towns, through regular meetings and coordination between stakeholders, volunteers and the chairpersons.
DACs are currently active in Swakopmund, Arandis, Walvis Bay, Henties Bay, Uis, Omatjete, Utuseb, Spitzkoppe, Okombahe, Omaruru, Karibib, Usakos and Otjimbingwe
The International Labor Organization estimates that without widespread treatment, Namibia could lose a quarter to a third of its workforce by 2020 as a result of HIV/AIDS. The World Bank estimates that with decreased investments and productivity on account of HIV/AIDS, there is likely to be a reduction in the annual GDP growth rate of 0.8 to 1.4 percentage points per year, and a 0.3 percentage reduction in the annual growth rate of GDP per capita.
Since the first HIV/AIDS case was reported in Namibia in 1986, the epidemic has grown to infect an estimated 230 000 Namibians. Today, HIV/AIDS is one of the primary causes of death and hospitalization. In 2000/2001, AIDS-related deaths accounted for 50 percent of deaths among individuals aged 15-49. AIDS-related hospitalizations accounted for over 75 percent of all hospitalizations in public sector hospitals. The 2004 survey found an estimated 108 000 orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) in Namibia.