Major general Tumelo Paledi of the Botswana Defence Force has called for a stronger leadership to be instituted in the fight against HIV-Aids. Giving a key note address at a recent voluntary counseling and testing campaign organized by the BDF in Francistown, Major Paledi said that strong leaders are important as they bear the responsibility of leading by example.
He added that HIV-Aids by nature requires strong leaders who will motivate and give strong support to those that they lead.
“We are fortunate in the BDF because we have strong leaders at various positions and various levels of command, I therefore urge you to ensure that this leadership commitment is turned into concrete results,” said Major Paledi.
He added that the military leadership is burdened with the responsibility of teaching junior officers that HIV-Aids is not an imaginary threat but a reality.
When elaborating on the theme of the day “Skwata go ya go ileng”, Paledi stressed that the theme reinforces the notion that individuals should make HIV testing a life habit.
“This is because HIV/ Aids testing gateway to a more and responsible living” he said.
Major Paledi explained that those who are found to be HIV negative are counseled and encouraged to take care of themselves. On the other hand those who test positive are encouraged to accept their status and live positively, at the same time using government’s HIV-Aids programs.
He added that whatever the outcomes of the test maybe, the lifestyle that one adopts should be a lifetime commitment.
Major Paledi singled out behavioral change as one of the challenging aspects of the fight against HIV-Aids because, despite knowing that multiple and concurrent relationships are some of the root causes of HIV-Aids, people continue to engage in risky behavior.
“There is a need to address behavioral change with gusto and instill a sense of responsibility on our people” he said.
He added that VCT is not the final goal, but only a means of winning a small victory in the battle. Another piloted method of combating HIV-Aids is safe male circumcision.
The BDF HIV/Aids campaign is done in conjunction with PSI (Population Service International) Botswana, and is aimed at implementing workplace education programs as a way of instilling behavioral change on workers and encouraging action among the BDF troops through partner reduction and the importance of voluntary counseling and testing services.