03 Aug 2016 12:50pm
ONGWEDIVA, 03 AUG (NAMPA) HIV/AIDS remains the leading cause of death among adults in Namibia and the epidemic was responsible for 3 610 deaths during 2014, despite Namibias treatment coverage receiving international recognition.
Officiating at the orientation of 100 new healthcare workers hired through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) at Ongwediva on Tuesday, Health and Social Services Deputy Minister, Juliet Kavetuna said HIV/AIDS is the sixth leading cause of death among children under five years of age.
This, she said, is revealed in the 2014 Child Survival Strategy of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.
Nationally, Kavetuna said, Namibia has a generalised HIV epidemic with 14 per cent of the 15 to 49-year-old population, which is 214 956 people, living with HIV/AIDS as per the 2013 assessment.
However, she said Namibias national HIV healthcare and treatment programme has been internationally recognised for its achievement of high Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) coverage.
An estimated 68 per cent of all those infected with HIV in Namibia are receiving ART. HIV testing among pregnant women is also high, with more than 95 per cent of pregnant women knowing their status.
The orientation of the newly hired healthcare workers, Kavetuna said, is a renewed support from USAID under its HIV Clinical Services Technical Assistance Project (UTAP), which was initiated in February 2015.
UTAP, the hiring agency through USAID, is targeting areas in the regions that have a high burden of HIV as well as an unmet need for ART.
The hired healthcare workers, who have basic healthcare experience, will focus on scaling up services such as HIV testing and counselling, linkage to care, treatment initiation and retention in care.
They will be deployed to Andara and Nyangana in the Kavango East Region; Odibo in Ohangwena; Oshikuku in Omusati; Onandjokwe, Omuthiya and Tsumeb in Oshikoto; and Grootfontein in Otjozondjupa regions.
Hired for a period of two years, they are to perform duties with the continuous provision of technical and financial support of the US government through its Presidents Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR).
These health workers sole responsibilities will be to accelerate and decentralise the HIV response and efforts which will contribute to Namibias race towards achieving HIV epidemic control.
Speaking at the same event, US Ambassador to Namibia, Thomas Daughton said the newly recruited 100 healthcare workers were selected from a pool of more than 8 000 applicants who wanted to fulfil the very important role.
Your role in our acceleration towards an AIDS-free generation in Namibia starts here, and it starts today, said Daughton, adding the new healthcare workers are key to Namibias success and their role comes with significant responsibility.
He pointed out that the US government, as per the agreement signed with the Namibian government in December 2015, has added N.dollars 480 million-worth of efforts on top of its existing N.dollars 568 million-worth programme for the next two years.
Daughton at the same time donated four double cab Toyota pick-ups to be used by the new health care workers in their responsibilities of HIV acceleration and decentralisation in the targeted areas.