ONAKAMWANDI – To make primary health care services accessible to the community, the Ministry of Health and Social Services has inaugurated two of the ten community-based antiretroviral therapy (ART) clinics at Akutsima and Onakwamwandi in Omusati and Oshana regions.
The ten facilities are funded by the American Embassy through PEPFAR. They will provide HIV care treatment, follow-ups for mothers who have just given birth, immunisations and screening for illnesses and supply of medicines for long-term conditions. The United States of America Ambassador to Namibia, Lisa Johnson, is pleased, noting that the number of people getting infected has been reduced by half compared to 15 years ago when PEPFAR first came to Namibia, when about 10 000 people were infected yearly.
“This is wonderful progress. But, while the number of new infections is decreasing, the number of people on treatment will continue to increase as Namibia successfully reaches people in need of care and treatment,” says Johnson.
Also speaking at the handover of the facility at Onakamwandi, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Bernard Haufiku, encouraged the community to get tested and get treatment early in order for Namibia to reach the 90/90/90 target set for 2020.
The 90/90/90 was set to ensure that 90 percent of people living with HIV will know their status, 90 percent of HIV diagnosed people will receive treatment and that 90 percent of those on treatment will have a viral suspension. Haufiku is dissatisfied Namibia lost out on its first goal towards the 2020 target because the youth, particularly young men, are hesitant to get tested. He thus encourages men below 40 to get tested and seek treatment early, adding that the ministry is committed to increase the number of clinics in the communities in order to end the HIV epidemic.
Haufiku also cautions churches and witch doctors ill-informing the community from taking their medication. Towards ending the HIV epidemic, the ministry is going to ban advertisement of medical products in the media, as it is derailing the progress thereof, says he.