Guest Contributor | Feb 21, 2024 | 0
We are now seeing what it is like to have epidemic control – Shangula
For its 20th anniversary, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) sent its Global AIDS Coordinator, Ambassador Dr John Nkengasong to Namibia to celebrate his organisation’s global achievements and its 18-year presence in Namibia.
Dr Nkengasong arrived on Saturday 17 June, departing again earlier this week on the 20th. He met with government officials, health practitioners and civil organisations.
He congratulated Namibia on the remarkable progress on the Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS targets and ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030. In Namibia, 92% of the population know their HIV status, 99% of people living with HIV are on treatment, and 94% of those on treatment are virally suppressed, meaning the virus is not detectable in their bodies.
At the end of the official visit, Dr Nkengasong hosted a PEPFAR 20th Anniversary celebration where he announced the 2023 PEPFAR funding planned in consultation with the Namibian Government, civil organisations and multilateral partners. In 2023, Namibia will receive approximately N$1.6 billion from the US Government through PEPFAR.
Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, said “Our partnership has grown stronger and more robust over the last two decades. Over the years, the partnership with PEPFAR has transitioned from an emergency to a long-term response. Many lives were saved, many people were given hope. We are now seeing what it looks like to have epidemic control.”
PEPFAR is implemented in Namibia through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Peace Corps.
Dr Nkengasong’s first stop was a Peace Corps supported programme, ‘Grassroots Soccer’ for young adults. At Katutura State Hospital, he met mothers living with HIV, their HIV-negative infants and their treatment supporters from the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission programme which is led by the Ministry of Health and Social Services and supported by PEPFAR.
“This support has given me life,” one of the mothers told the AIDS Coordinator.
Reflecting on his time spent with the young people of Namibia, Dr Nkengasong said, “The HIV epidemic will only be ended by the engagement and leadership of the youth.”