Over the past seven years, the United States of America (US) government has supported close to 60 000 Namibian orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) affected by HIV with services to live healthy, safe lives and to stay in school.
On May 27, in a ceremony at Outapi in the Omusati region, the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) outlined the expansion of this support from 14 to 18 districts in eight regions, adding 20 000 new beneficiaries so far this year.
The project focuses on mitigating the impact of HIV on at-risk populations such as OVC and their caregivers, adolescent girls and young women, as well as key populations.
The services provided include HIV risk assessment, prevention of HIV and sexual violence skills training, sexual reproductive health education, socio-economic and psychosocial services, parenting skills training, as well as referrals for education, civil, legal and social protection. The programme is implemented by Project HOPE Namibia through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
“This work is an important contribution towards achieving HIV epidemic control through a comprehensive response for families that provide community-based treatment, care and support interventions to children and their caregivers that are living with or are affected by HIV,” highlighted Acting USAID health office director Daniel Lee.
“PEPFAR will continue funding OVC programmes with over US$4 million this year – or N$56 million – to ensure that OVC services are continued and expanded in 18 districts.”
The four new expansion districts are Okongo in the Ohangwena region, and Outapi, Okahao and Tsandi in the Omusati region.
The expansion will provide full coverage to all districts in the Ohangwena and Omusati regions.
Since the inception of the programme in 2013, more than 59 000 orphans and vulnerable children have received support services, and an estimated 278 000 OVC
were registered for government-funded social grants with the Ministry of Gender Equality, Poverty Eradication and Social Welfare.
These cash transfers help the family and the child meet their daily expenses, including food, school supplies and clothing.