More effort needed to end AIDS by 2030
Botswana still needs to do more if she is to achieve the new global targets of ending HIV/AIDS by 2030, Health and Wellness Minister, Dorcus Makgato has told Parliament.
The minister said robust programmes and interventions are in place to reduce around 10 000 annual HIV infections. “As part of the continued fight against HIV/AIDS, the country has adopted the Option B+ strategy where all HIV positive women are initiated on ARV for life and it is to be intensified. In addition, the country adopted the Treat All Strategy where people testing HIV positive are put on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) regardless of level of CD4 count,” she said.
Presenting her ministry’s budget under National Development Plan (NDP11) Makgato stated that the strategy is being implemented nationwide. She explained that as the programme matures, and as more healthy people are put on treatment, adherence to treatment and emergence of drug resistance will need to be closely monitored.
A system will be introduced to proactively support adherence and closely monitor emergence of drug resistance, the minister told Parliament. “Furthermore, Botswana adopted the 90:90:90 UNAIDS Strategy (2014) which aims at attaining 90 percent of people living with HIV knowing their HIV status, and 90 percent of those who are HIV positive initiated on ARVs and 90 percent of those on ARVs being virally suppressed.”Makgato revealed that during NDP 11, the focus will be on prevention with special focus on the youth, women and key populations.
She said that they will continue to integrate HIV services with others like TB and Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) and strengthen gender sensitive-response to HIV and AIDS. She said that in view of challenges related to both communicable and non-communicable diseases, a paradigm shift in the country’s health care approach from curative to preventative care will be adopted.
This will be achieved through among others, revitalization of primary health care, promotion of healthy lifestyle to increase public ownership and responsibility on health issues, and strengthening National Response to HIV and AIDS focusing on youth and women.