USAID grant expands HIV testing and treatment
The four-year, US$12 million USAID HIV Clinical Services Technical Assistance Project is designed to deliver high quality and accessible HIV prevention, care and treatment services in Kavango East, Oshikoto, Omusati and Ohangwena. These regions have the highest HIV infection rate and the greatest unmet needs.
The Technical Assistance Project is funded through the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) through IntraHealth International.
The project is a partnership between the ministry and the Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran Medical Services to train, equip, deploy and mentor healthcare workers, especially in areas where people have limited access to medical care. Healthcare workers are to be trained to collect data to identify, treat and monitor HIV positive individuals.
Before the formal launch of the project, the partners conducted assessments of existing health facilities and data. Those assessments indicate that more than 38,000 people in Namibia are eligible for life-saving antiretroviral treatment but are not receiving it because they do not know their status. At the launch last week at St. Mary’s High School, Odibo, Ohangwena Region, U.S. Ambassador Thomas Daughton said that special attention will be given to expanding access to HIV counselling, testing and treatment.
“Special attention also will be given to identifying and meeting the needs of HIV positive children and adolescents so that no Namibian is left behind,” Ambassador Daughton said.
Minister of Health and Social Services Bernhard Haufiku, thanked IntraHealth International, the U.S. Government and especially the faith-based medical services for their “unwavering support in our fight against HIV/AIDS and other diseases.”
Dr Haufiku warned that five districts in Omusati, Oshikoto and Okavango have reported increases in cases of HIV, especially among the youth. “This must be of concern to all of us as it essentially means an erosion or reversal of our gains and struggle for HIV elimination efforts,” he said calling on the youth to avoid risky behaviour that contribute to HIV transmission. He specifically mentioned alcohol and drug abuse.
PEPFAR works with the Namibian Government for sustainable control of the HIV epidemic and ultimately to achieve an AIDS-free generation.