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For Botswana to enhance the effectiveness of HIV interventions, a shift from national approach to prioritisation and targeting of specific localities and sub-groups is necessary.
This was said by the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Wellness, Ms Ruth Maphorisa at the Structured Dialogue with Civil Society, Community Based Organisations and the Private Sector in Gaborone on November 19.
Ms Maphorisa said Botswana had made remarkable achievements in its response since the first case of HIV was diagnosed in the country in the mid-1980s.
She however said the major challenge ahead was building on the success achieved to-date and working towards ending the epidemic as a public health threat.
This, she said, would require the development and implementation of innovative interventions that placed emphasis on prevention of new infection and universal access to treatment through the Treat-All initiative.
Ms Maphorisa said this came at the time when the Ministry of Health and Wellness was revitalising Primary Health Care as one of its transformative agenda for attainment of universal health care.
She urged all stakeholders to fully play their part in fast-tracking the implementation of the national response in order to achieve success in attaining the ambitious target of ending HIV/AIDS.
The permanent secretary noted that in March last year, civil society organisations developed a Commitment Charter as part of their contributions towards ending AIDS and through this Charter, the civil society organisations in Botswana had made a commitment to achieving not only the 90-90-90 Fast track Targets by 2020, but would go an additional mile to 95-95-95 targets.
“The same commitment is expected from other key players in the national HIV response such as the public sector, the private sector and the community, she said.
Ms Maphorisa urged the gathering to establish common understanding of challenges and opportunities providing a foundation for cooperation and complementarity for value addition in the national HIV response service delivery and enhance consensus on effective partnership models that could facilitate optimum delivery by Civil Society.
She also encouraged them to enhance consensus on the civil society organisation’s contribution towards the national HIV response, a coordination and accountability model for greater impact and sustainability.
“The 2016 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS, which advocates for integration of HIV response is a broader national development agenda in line with the Sustainable Development Goal 3 that emphasises access to health services for all,” she said.
At continental level, she said, ‘Botswana is committed to Agenda 2063 of the African Union (AU) that provides a roadmap for a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development.
It also seeks to facilitate implementation of AU Framework to end AIDS by 2030 as well as the AIDS Watch Africa Strategic Plan.
She said that this dialogue came at a better time in the wake of the completion of the National HIV Strategic Framework III (NSF III) that ‘charts the way forward and guides the implementation of collaborative multi-sectoral response to HIV and AIDS for the next five years (2018 to 2023).’
Ms Maphorisa noted that Botswana recently joined UN-AIDS Global HIV Prevention Coalition and the SADC commitments for HIV that sets a specific target of 30 per cent of investment in HIV prevention going to the community organisations.
“This cannot be achieved without participation of civil society organisations, which are largely more positioned to deal with the community at grassroots levels,” she said, adding that NSF III was also aligned to NDP II and Vision 2036 and the SADC Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2015-2020.
Meanwhile, Botswana Network of AIDS Service Organisations executive director, Mr Oscar Motsumi said civil societies were the largest contributor to people testing for HIV and knowing their status as well as linking them with service providers.
Mr Motsumi said at every corner of this country, one would find a counselling and testing centre for people to get services easily.
Executive director of Botswana Network of Ethics Law and Aids, Ms Cindy Kelemi said that the objectives of the dialogue were to take stock of the contributions made over the years in terms of the national response to HIV/AIDS and interrogate accountability mechanism in terms of delivering their contribution.
Ms Kelemi said that other objectives included creating a platform for civil societies to share experiences in terms of services delivery.
She said they also wanted to build consensus on how to transform civil society to be fit for the purpose and explore partnership as well as ensure that they ‘know who is doing what, where and how they can come together to maximise their efforts.’ BOPA

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