Botswana: Bravo for Botswana's
When President Festus Mogae launched the ARV programme years ago, no one would have predicted what the results would be.
Batswana were perhaps unsure about what to expect. But they were hoping that things would turn out right.
The ARV programme, running alongside the Abstain, Be faithful, Condomise campaign, helped complete Botswana's approach to the fight against HIV/AIDS.
These different aspects of the programmes ensured that the infected and affected were included.
While we prevent further infections, we also make sure we take care of those who are already infected by enrolling them into the ARV programme.
We would also reduce mother-to-child infection through the PMTCT programme. In other words, government devised an all-encompassing approach to the HIV/AIDS challenge.
This is what has made Botswana's battle against HIV/AIDS the envy of many around the world. But this campaign has not just been pragmatic, was spearheaded by the highest office in the country, the presidency.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Sheila Tlou, revealed over the weekend that 90 per cent of Batswana infected have already enrolled with the ARV.
This is a praiseworthy figure. She said this shows that Batswana have responded positively to the fight against the disease.
We agree. We believe Government, non-governmental organisations, private sector and most importantly, Batswana, as communities and individuals, deserve recognition for their effort.
We can tell results from the concerted effort from all stakeholders. The number of children born with the virus has been reduced from 40 percent to only six per cent.
People in the home-based care programme have been reduced nearly seven-fold from 19, 000 to only 3, 000 and nearly half the population has tested.
This is indeed laudable.
We also wish to urge everyone to continue the struggle. Most importantly, we want the other half of our population to test and get help. The second point is to enhance education at the youth level in order to arrest infection levels at lower age groups.
Perhaps education about the dangers of re-infection among those already feeling the benefits of the ARV programme should also be redoubled since there is evidence that some of them relapse back into unsafe sexual behaviour. This would ensure that we finally win this war.
However, we still want to say bravo to Botswana for a war well fought so far.