Yvonne Chaka Chaka says HIV/AIDS conferences will be a waste of time as long as people affected by the disease are not engaged and decisions taken at such conferences are not implemented.
Chaka Chaka, a UNICEF goodwill ambassador, was one of the speakers at the recent first-ever national AIDS conference in Swakopmund that was attended by hundreds of people.
The conference was attended by 600 delegates, including doctors, and other and healthworkers from both the public and the private sectors.
It was held under the theme, ‘Together we are ending AIDS in Namibia’ and experts discussed and analysed Namibia’s HIV prevention efforts, testing services, evaluate the prevention of mother to child transmission, among others.
According to Chaka Chaka, conferences do not save lives, but can help save and protect lives.
“We need to engage our people and execute decisions taken from such conferences, make sure that our people are not discriminated against, nor die due to HIV/AIDS. Otherwise our conference would be a waste of time,” she said.
Namibia, she noted, has made significant strides against the fight of HIV/AIDS, “Yet a lot still needs to be done. In order for us to be successful in our fight against HIV/Aids we will require continuous sustained engagements and unique inputs of various communities and informal groups at grassroot level up to global coalitions.”
She added that such engagements should include everyone, irrespective of religion, sexual orientation or family background, because the fight is everybody’s.
She added that HIV awareness campaigns must be continued and behaviour that fuels HIV transmission in communities curtailed.
“We, as a nation, need to build trust by advocating for and promoting personal experiences and knowledge, so as encourage acceptance and de-stigmatise HIV.
“We need also to continue to support our non-governmental organisations that have taken the lead in the fight against the pandemic,” said the UNICEF goodwill ambassador.