Eveline de Klerk
Swakopmund-The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, says a more vigorous and direct approach is needed to eliminate HIV/Aids by 2030.
According to Haufiku, sub-Saharan Africa must move beyond reaching HIV-positive people through health facilities and antenatal care, and should rather visit marginalised communities, prisons, clubs, taxi ranks and workplaces and areas often regarded as high risk to tackle HIV/AIDS head-on.
“Only then we can make a difference,” he said. Haufiku was speaking at the official opening of the three-day conference on building a stronger HIV prevention movement in sub-Saharan Africa that started on Wednesday in Swakopmund.
The conference is being attended by health workers, advocates and policymakers of 19 countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Namibia , Zimbabwe, Ireland and Switzerland.
The aim of the conference is to expand the reach of effective HIV/AIDS prevention in sub-Saharan Africa to end the epidemic, as well as to discuss prevention scale-up which will require expansion of existing prevention strategies and adoption of new prevention tools.
Haufiku said the ownership of various programmes, the implementation of such programmes and a more direct approach against HIV/AIDS is critical to sub-Saharan Africa if the region wants to curb the disease by 2030.
“Ownership of our initiatives is very critical … and our ability to end AIDS transmission is going to be tested. If we don’t change our current approach we won’t succeed in eliminating HIV/AIDS by 2030,” he said.
Thus, Haufiku said, friendly approachable health workers are essential especially when dealing with the youth and pregnant mothers.
“On top of that I want us not only to reach out to pregnant women when they seek antennal care, but we should rather go out in the community, especially to our marginalised members, go to schools, prisons, clubs and other high-risk areas to identify those who are already positive and also educate the negative ones,” Haufiku stressed.