The African Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Partnerships (ACHAP) is expanding its footprints from Botswana to her neighbours.
Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Jerome Mafeni, said at a glittering awards ceremony held recently in Gaborone that ACHAP was celebrating a response to a new situation as the organisation enters a transformation from Botswana to the rest of the continent. ACHAP retains its headquarters in Botswana.
“As at the end of August we are stopping the safe male circumcision programme. 106 staff will have no jobs. By the end of September 60 members of staff will be out of jobs. We are not disappearing though. ACHAP is going to shrink to a core staff and continue to mobilize resources,” said Mafeni.
Mafeni heaped praise on former President Festus Mogae and the then Minister of Health, Joy Phumaphi currently the chairperson of ACHAP, for being significant players in the creation of ACHAP. Both were recognized for their contributions through the ACHAP awards.
“Mogae used every opportunity at home and abroad to solicit support. ACHAP presented an opportunity to address the epidemic in a more comprehensive and concerted way through anti-retroviral treatment,” said Peter Stegman as he made a presentation.
Mafeni acknowledged that national response to the HIV epidemic was energized under Mogae’s administration as Botswana responded to the epidemic with an Anti Retroviral Treatment (ART) roll-out to 80 percent of people needing treatment in 2009.
ACHAP through the ART reduced HIV/AIDS related deaths by 48 percent.
For his part Mogae warned the gathering that HIV will still be with the nation in the foreseeable future.
“AIDS response was one of the top priorities during my administration.
Botswana became the first country to rollout free ARV to Botswana citizens living with HIV/AIDS and this was made possible by ACHAP,” said Mogae.
Mogae said he was proud to be associated with ACHAP noting that the people at ACHAP made Botswana’s problem their problem. He hailed the Gates Foundation and Merck for the creation of ACHAP with $50 million pledges each. Merck made available $100 million worth of drugs.
For her part Phumaphi like everyone else at the dinner, heaped praised on Mogae, saying she was humbled to have had Mogae as her boss and for “being an inspiration for staying the cause with us”.