Stakeholders brainstorm on accelerating HIV prevention in Namibia

Windhoek, Namibia

Health Minister Dr. Bernard Haufiku
Health Minister Bernard Haufiku addressing stakeholders. Photo by Emma Mbekele/UNFPA

WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA: Stakeholders working on HIV prevention met on 21 September 2017 to discuss the HIV prevention roadmap for Namibia and disseminate the draft National HIV Strategic Framework (NSF) for 2017-2022. The draft NSF once approved will serve as a roadmap for scaling up HIV combination prevention in the country.

The meeting was convened by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) in partnership with UNFPA and UNAIDS.

Globally, there is consensus that in order to reach the reductions in new HIV infections by 75 percent by the year 2020 primary prevention programmes are to be rapidly scaled up alongside treatment.

Therefore, the United Nations member states in the 2016 Political Declaration on Ending AIDS committed to reaching 90 percent of young people at risk and key populations with tailor made HIV primary prevention programmes including condoms and voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) whilst addressing structural and behavioral barriers.

In October 2017, a Global Prevention Coalition roadmap will be launched and will be aimed at working towards achieving the set prevention targets.

Each member state is expected to develop a roadmap towards the vigorous scale up of primary prevention programmes.

In his remarks at the meeting, Health Minister Bernard Haufiku said although Namibia has made significant progress against the global targets, more still needed to be done.

“More people than ever before are on treatment, mother-to-child transmission of HIV is close to elimination, while the number of children living with HIV is falling and domestic financing of the HIV response is increasing,” he said.

“Despite this progress, new infections among adolescents and adults have been declining far too slow,” said Haufiku, adding, “We have to do business unusual, else we will not meet our 90-90-90 targets.”

UNFPA Representative, Dennia Gayle, who also attended the meeting urged stakeholders to rally behind the full implementation of the NSF. “If we want zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths, partnership is inevitably needed. As for UNFPA and UNAIDS we remain committed in ensuring our support in the implementation of the HIV combination prevention roadmap in Namibia,” she said.

"It’s important for Namibia to domesticate the global HIV combination prevention targets," said UNAIDS Country Director Dr. Tharcisse Barihuta.

By Emma Mbekele