Over the last two decades Botswana has taken several important steps to mount a large scale cohesive National Response to HIV and AIDS. The National Response came into being in 1987 as the then National AIDS Control Program (NACP) under the Ministry of Health. A one year Short Term Plan (STP) was developed to fast rack the country’s response against HIV and AIDS. This was followed in quick succession by the development of the Medium Term Plan MTPI) which covered a five-year period.
During this period Ministry of Health coordinated the National Response, largely from the stand point of a health problem. The revised National Policy on HIV and AIDS articulated Government’s concern and position hence provided more encompassing guidelines. The policy marked a shift from a health-sector led response to a multi-sectoral one. As a result the development of the Medium Term Plan (MTPII – 1997-2002) was underpinned by the pronouncements of the national Policy and sought to operationalize these key tenets.
Subsequently the National AIDS Council was established to coordinate the National Response with NACA serving as its secretariat. NACA was therefore established through a Presidential Cabinet Directive on 14 December 1999 at the Ministry of Health. Later it was moved to the Ministry of State President with full-fledged ministerial portfolio and mandate. The establishment of NACA was borne out of the realization that HIV and AIDS had not only become the most important public health challenge facing the country, it also posed the most serious challenge to Botswana’s future socio-economic development.
This reality was epitomized by the complexity of the HIV and AIDS epidemic which required a National Response that provided visionary leadership and ensured the active involvement of local, national and international stakeholders, and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities. The National Strategic Framework (NSF 2003-2009) succeeded the NTPII and it has been NACA’s key platform for implementation of the National Response.
With guidance from the people of Botswana, the National AIDS Council, Vision 2016, and a diverse set of government, development partners and civil society organizations, NACA has been able to, among others:
Provide strategic direction and set key priorities in the quest for lasting solutions against the epidemic Develop and support programmes and policies that can deliver on identified priorities, and Develop infrastructure, tools and mechanisms used for monitoring and evaluation of progress of the National Response.