By Frederick Philander
If Namibia is to win the battle against HIV/Aids, the nation will have to continue putting the focus on prevention and confront misconceptions and dangerous attitudes that surround the usage of condoms.
So said the deputy minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura, as guest speaker at the official opening of the country’s state-of-the-art condom factory on Friday evening.
Many invited guests attended the launch of Commodity Exchange, a wholly owned Namibian company.
“As we all know, Namibia is among the top five countries in the world that is the hardest hit by the HIV/Aids pandemic. The impact of the disease on the socio-economic welfare of our population is worrisome because the family unit, which is the most basic of all social structures, has been devastated by the pandemic,” Haingura said.
She referred to the tendency of violence continuing to occur leading to the breaking up of marriages and relationships.
“Children are daily being orphaned as Aids takes its toll, and family finances are drained as it is primarily spent on the health care needs of people who are infected. Members who contribute to the income and welfare of families are being incapacitated by Aids and the life expectancy rate has dropped tremendously,” she revealed.
Haingura warned that most government resources meant for other development projects are used to mitigate the impact of HIV/Aids.
“Our labour force is succumbing to HIV/Aids, thereby affecting production as man hours are lost due to recurrent illnesses. Severe losses of skilled and experienced personnel in our workforce continue to occur as a result of the pandemic. Denial by individuals, families and societies that the illness exists is one of the biggest problems,” she warned.
Not many people voluntarily seek to know their HIV status early so as to access care and treatment services that greatly reduce the negative impact of Aids.
“Many only wait until they are very sick to be convinced of the need to know their status so that health workers can give them appropriate treatment.
Recovery then takes time, as the body would have become weak. Therefore, the ministry of Health and Social Services encourages individuals, couples and families to embrace positive behaviour and attitudes in using condoms correctly and consistently every time they have sexual intercourse,” Haingura, who encouraged those not sexually active to remain so until the right time, said.
“Today our public clinics, health centres and hospitals nationwide have provisions to enable anyone wishing to get both male and female condoms at no cost,” she concluded.