The umbrella body for HIV/AIDS in Namibia hosted its general meeting where members of Community based organisations, Faith based organisations, Non-Governmental Organization has gathered for two days. The Bi – ennial General Meeting (BGM) is the highest organ of NANASO network providing an opportunity for stock taking, discussing organisational and financial reports, as well as the Strategic Plan of the Network. It also adopts various relevant policy documents as well as reviewing and adopting proposed amendments to the constitution. The conference has attracted many participants from all 14 regions and some Sub Recipients organisation.
In reflecting on progress since the launch of the MDGs in 2000, UNAIDS announced in July 2015 during the AU summit that the target set for MDG 6 was achieved when the number of people living with HIV accessing life-saving anti-retroviral treatment (ART) reached 15 million from less than 700,000 in 2000. This progress in the rollout of ART was at the pinnacle of a broader range of successes regarding HIV which are, collectively, truly remarkable, heartening and hopeful. The new infections have been also reduced. Said Dr Tharcisse Barihuta, UNAIDS Country Director on Behalf of Ms. Kiki Gbeho UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.
Allow me to use this opportunity to congratulate Namibia for the continuous political leadership at National, regional and continental levels and the Great Achievements realized since the adoption of the MGDS in 2000. The said MGD6 Report has been launched in July 2015 in Addis Ababa during the African Union Summit by H.E Dr Hage Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia and UN SG Mr BAN KI MOON and UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr Michel Sidibe.
Despite these progresses, Namibia still faces a generalized HIV epidemic with HIV prevalence standing at 16.9% among pregnant women. The Zambezi region has the highest prevalence estimated at 23, 7.0%. Ending Aids as a health threat by 2030 is possible in Namibia. UN family is supporting Namibia to domesticate this Global Vision through the development of HIV/AIDS Investment Framework linked with Namibia development vision by 2030. Through this process Namibia will domesticate the Fast Track approach and make sure that by 2020 90% of people are aware of their HIV status , 90% of PLWIH are on treatment and 90% people on treatment have the viral road suppressed. In this regard, the UN family works both upstream and downstream, jointly with Government and Civil Society organizations, said Dr Barihuta.
Mr. Amon Ngavetene, the former board chairman has highlighted that this is the biggest ever for NANASO network and it presents an opportunity to network but most importantly understand the strength we have in civil society in responding to HIV and any other communicable disease that has been detected and those yet to be detected. HIV is mainly spread through heterosexual sex, driven by high rates of multiple and concurrent partnerships, transactional sex (prostitution) and child abuse. Other factors include misconceptions about the risk of contracting HIV, low and inconsistent condom use, low rates of male circumcision, high rates of alcohol abuse, a high rate of mobility and migration.
Despite progress, the rate of new HIV infections in Namibia – estimated at 8 000 in the period 2011 to 2012 – remains unacceptably high. In 2012, over 40% of new HIV infections occurred among young people aged 15-24; young women in this age group accounted for two thirds of these infections.
It is against this background that I think it will be a tragedy to loss the support of civil society who are currently providing services in the hard to reach areas such as remote areas, rural areas, and specialized services as home-based care, psycho socio-support and other therapy such nutritional support interventions for those infected.
I urge the development partners particularly government to consider closing the funding gap currently experienced by members of NGOs some of them seated here who are squeezed all sizes making hard choices on how to remain afloat and provide services needed by the clients. We will be doomed of we compromise on these community services which are essential to ending HIV by 2030 as anticipated and the time to act is now, Said Mr. Ngavetene.
This meeting is taking place at a time when Namibia and the City of Windhoek are battling with the scourge of HIV and Aids which continues to impact negatively on our economy and the livelihood of our people. I therefore have no doubt that the presence of each and every one of us is sparked by the joint commitment we share, in the fight against the pandemic. It reflects our contribution to nation building and most importantly to the national response to HIV and AIDS and other communicable diseases in Namibia. The City of Windhoek is therefore happy to be associated with the efforts of NANASO in increasing universal access to health services and building strategic partnerships that will enhance the quality of service delivery. It is for this reason that in collaboration with our international partners such as UNAIDS, the City has been rolling out HIV/AIDS programs over the past years.
In conclusion, allow me Director of proceedings to use this opportunity to condemn the recent cold-blooded killings of the two innocent women which occurred in the area of my jurisdiction. Any loss of life is way too much for our nation particularly if that life is lost through senseless killings. We need to agree to live in harmony and promote peace and love in our community and society. I call on all of you to create responsive neighborhoods that provide protection for women and children who are usually victims of such barbaric attacks and to responsively assist those who are in violent sexual relationships, said Hon Muesee Kazapua.
One of the biggest achievement that has done was the election of the NANASO Board Members which consist of 9 members, during the last conference of NANASO there has been a bit fear to elect all 9 members at the conference due to the skills which members didn’t have. But during 2015 conference it has showed that all the skills that are needed to serve in the board such Financial, Monitoring & Evaluation, Legal experts, Governance and others are all covered. The Governor of Khomas Region Hon Laura McLeod Katjirua congratulated those that have been elected to public office as members of NANASO board and she implored them to use this opportunity to advance the interest of the umbrella body but not for personal interest.
Lastly we are taking this opportunity to thank our entire main sponsor The Management Science for Health (MSH), Standard Bank as well our partner the Ministry of Health and Social Services, UNAIDS and other for the valuable contributions that they have made it for the success of the Biennial General Meeting.