In an effort to sensitize the public on issues relating to human rights observation and HIV/Aids campaigns, the Botswana Network on Ethics, law and HIV/Aids (BONELA) last week held a human rights HIV Aids campaign in Francistown.
In an interview with Sunday Standard, the Coordinator of the event, Felistus Motimedi, revealed that BONELA decided to target Francistown because of its high rate of HIV/Aids infections.
Motimedi said that BONELA decided to use a human rights approach in order to try and sensitize the public that there should not be any discrimination and stigmatising of people affected by the HIV/Aids pandemic.
“The other reason why we targeted Francistown is because we are based in Gaborone, therefore, we wanted to decentralize our services to the Northern region,” she stated.
She went further to state that the campaign is mainly geared at sensitizing the youth on the importance of refraining from ill behavior that may lead to HIV/Aids infections. Motimedi also revealed that as BONELA, they have taken an initiative to work hand in hand with stake holders in Francistown, such as the District Multi Sectorial AIDS Committee (DAMSAC), in order to strengthen the war in fighting the HIV/Aids scourge in Francistown. She further stressed that one of BONELA’s main objective is to strengthen existing relationships while forging new ones with strategic partners in the government, civic and civil organizations, including the private service providers, people living with HIV/Aids and individuals.
“Therefore BONELA is in partnership with the Francistown District Multi sectorial AIDS Committee (DAMSAC) in this initiative,” she stressed.
Motimedi added that although they have always held such campaigns in Gaborone, BONELA felt it necessary to spread its wings to the North Region given that Francistown is one of the most affected areas in Botswana.
Motimedi said that although Selibe Phikwe is also hit by the pandemic, they will only start the campaign in Selibe Phikwe next year as their intention is to create this awareness across the whole country as time goes on.
She added that BONELA’s activities are aimed at ensuring that ethics, the law and human rights are made an essential part of the national response to fighting this pandemic in Botswana, which has one of the world’s highest rates of HIV prevalence.
“We strive to fight HIV-related stigma and discrimination and to promote respect for humanity,” she pointed out.
She noted that they still have to reach other places, like Kasane and Ghanzi.
The campaign commenced with a march in the morning at Tati Police Station and ended at Galo Shopping Mall in Francistown.