VP meets 90-90-90 treatment target Ambassador

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Vice President Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi says Botswana firmly supports the 90-90-90 initiative.

Speaking during a courtesy call by UNAIDS officials, Mr Masisi said Botswana was one of the countries that declared and was reaching the 90-90-90 target.

He said Botswana was committed to the 90-90-90 target as one of the ways of dealing with HIV/AIDS challenges.

The 90-90-90 target is a UNAIDS goal that by 2020, 90 per cent of all people living with HIV would know their HIV status, that 90 per cent of all people with HIV infection would have received antiretroviral therapy and that by 2020, 90 per cent of all people receiving antiretroviral therapy would have viral suppression.

Mr Masisi noted that Botswana had long declared and lived the 90-90-90 initiative as she had shown commitment through engaging and launching a war on HIV.

He commended the involvement of the third president of Botswana, Mr Festus Mogae, who sought assistance and partnership to fight HIV/AIDS.

He also said they have engaged organisations, political parties, NGOs, interested groups as well as people of various religions to focus efforts on fighting the scourge.

He stated that the 90-90-90 initiative had long been operating in Botswana, adding that after its introduction almost three years back, Botswana was close to reaching the UNAIDS 90-90-90 target for HIV/AIDS knowledge status, treatment and virologic suppression.

He further said Botswana was eager to take on the 20 million people required to work on health issues.

He said the involvement of health workers who were actively involved in every village as part of self-perception to be a service to individuals.

The Vice President invited the UNAIDS delegation to use Botswana as a model, adding that they were willing to train health workers, and that they have the right facilities that could help with implementation.

“We have advanced and it is an opportunity to add value to the world, and we are willing to assist those who might not be doing that well,” said Mr Masisi.

For her part, the Minister of Health and Wellness, Ms Dorcas Makgato highlighted the factors that contributed to the success, including free access to HIV education, treatment, care and support.

Ms Makgato explained that the new HIV “treat all” strategy was one of the most important milestones for Botswana in the fight against HIV and AIDS.

She pointed out that with the treat all strategy, they would be able to save more people from being infected by HIV as well as prevent more HIV deaths by 2030.

“The treat all strategy today is an investment in ensuring a healthy and disease free nation,” she said.

The minister said the strategy had moved Botswana closer to achieving epidemiologic control and strengthening the health care system to deliver the highest quality care to prevent all people regardless of gender, age or background from having to fight HIV for the rest of their lives.

Ms Makgato also stated that health remained a priority, and that they would like to ensure that they provide quality health care, including providing the necessary personnel.

Ms Makgato also said the nation was faced with an emerging health concern of non-communicable diseases.

“All these underscore the importance of our resolve to maintain a healthy nation,” she said.

She noted that the health faculty was faced with many other health challenges such as the shortage of health care workers, migration of doctors and that some local doctors after being trained do not want to get back to the country for practice.

For his part, the ambassador for 90-90-90 and Global champion for UNAIDS, Mr Marc Angel congratulated Botswana for her impressive progress on the 90-90-90 health initiative.

Mr Angel said their visit was to highlight the importance of strengthening the health system with a focus on the role of health workers as well as the community in assisting service delivery even beyond HIV.

He was accompanied by the UNAIDS director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Prof Sheila Tlou, the UNAIDS director of special initiatives, Dr Badara Samb and other UNAIDS representatives. BOPA