STATEMENT BY THE HONOURABLE JOHN MUTORWA, MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, WATER AND FORESTRY ON THE OCCASION OF THE COMMEMORATION OF THE WORLD AIDS DAY 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me take this opportunity to welcome you all to this important occasion, in commemoration of the 2014 World AIDS Day.
World AIDS Day which falls on the 01 December is an annual event dedicated to raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic caused by the spread of HIV infection. A day for taking stock of the challenges that humanity is facing because of HIV&AIDS, and for celebrating our successes in supporting the people affected by the pandemic. And supporting the World AIDS Day theme; Getting to Zero, Zero New Infections, Zero Discrimination, Zero AIDS related death.
We have lived with this pandemic for more than three decades. We have seen the high death toll, dislocation of many families, the reduced life spans in hard-hit countries, the increase in child mortality and the millions of children orphaned by HIV/AIDS. We have also seen the pain suffered by people who are stigmatized and discriminated against because of their HIV-positive status, and excluded from accessing the support, care and treatment services they so desperately need.
HIV/AIDS has had an impact on morale, productivity and skills transfer within the Agriculture, Water and Forestry sector (AWF), and on family life outside it. We are experiencing different impacts on different levels. Like; young people dying, Posts had to be frozen because it takes time to find replacements, and the workload increased for other staff members.Due to large-scale unemployment the loss of the only bread-winner for a household has resulted in the rupture of family cohesion.With the death of young people the transfer of knowledge between generations has been interrupted, and in the case of older people expertise lost.Family structures are destroyed. More children are orphaned, children headed households are increasing. Absenteeism is experienced in work places as people are either ill, attend to sick people at home, or attend funerals.
However positive attitude and motivation are the key elements in mounting a successful response to HIV. As such, it is important to give AWF Sector stakeholdersthe opportunity to learn more about theVirus and how to prevent themselves from being infected and also how to live a healthy and positive life if they are infected. It is important to know your HIV status in order to make informed decisions.
A great step towards healthy living on an individual level and getting to ZERO.
As a Sector we also contribute to Getting to ZERO through:
· The Water and Sanitation Programme, which results in clean and improved access to water, therefore this reduces vulnerability to infections, improved hygiene and safety for all Namibians.
· The Community Forestry Programme and the Income generating activities for communities which resulted in improved livelihood and access to information.
· The agriculture Fresh produce hubs, expansion of the green scheme or the goat project in Karas,Hardap and Omaheke regions, all creating better livelihood for many people and is reducing vulnerability for people and access to more nutritious food for better health.
Just to name a few examples.
However, we need to be aware of the risks of HIV infection and find ways how we can further reduce these risks in our workplace as employees and for the communities we work with.
Preventing the spread of HIV is important to each of usand prevention is currently the only way to tackle HIV since there is no cure.
Ladies and Gentlemen, HIV/AIDS cannot be the sole responsibility of Ministry of Health and Social Servicesalone. It needs a multi-sectorial approach to mitigate the impacts of the disease on our nation. Therefore every individual should take responsibility of his or her own life and the lives of those who are dear to us. It is about time that we should collaboratively take action to curb the effects of HIV/AIDS on our society.
As per the National Strategic Framework (NSF), the Agriculture Water and Forestry Sector developed a Sector Strategic plan to fight the spread of HIV/AIDS in the sector to ensure the mainstreaming of HIV/AIDS in the sector policies, programmes and projects. The plan was developed by the AWF sector steering committee in consultation with the AWF sector stakeholders. At this juncture let me applaud the GIZ for the Technical assistance and the support in drafting the AWF Sector Strategic plan. Today, the 5th of December 2014, the AWF sector commemorates the World Aids Day and also launches its own sector strategic plan on HIV/AIDS.
In conclusion, I would like to thank every one of you here for taking time off your busy schedules to come commemorate the World AIDS Day and launch our strategic planwith us.You are all invited to make use of the voluntary testing and counselling services offered today through the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry workplace programme Fresh ‘n Fit.
I hope that we all leave here knowing our HIV status and be inspired about what YOU can do to prevent yourself from becoming infected or how to Live positively with HIV without any stigma or discrimination.
TOGETHER WE CAN OVERCOME THIS CHALLENGE. Let this be the start of an era of openness, of taking personal responsibility, and of working together in unity to prevent HIV infections and to take care of our brother and sisters who are living with HIV and deal with its impact.
BEAR IN MIND THAT PREVENTION IS ALWAYS A BETTER ALTERNATIVE THAN CURE.
I THANK YOU