The first ever center, catering for the needs of teenagers living with HIV/AIDS, is to be built a stone’s throw away from Princess Marina Hospital.
Reports indicate that the centre is necessary because there are roughly 7000 children on ARV treatment in the country, most of whom will make their way into adolescence where they are likely to seek guidance and services different from those they had when they were younger.
The Botswana-Baylor Centre has secured a P900 000 plot for the proposed new adolescent centre that will focus on care and support services, specifically for adolescents living with HIV/AIDS.
The center will be one of only 8 existing ones in the country.
Total costs estimates for the centre are at P2, 3 million for construction and initial costs. The centre will be open to all adolescents aged 10-19 in Botswana.
The programme is an extension of the already established Botswana-Baylor Children’s clinical center of Excellence, which provides care, treatment and support to HIV/AIDS children and their families.
The initiative is a partnership between Baylor International Paediatric AIDS initiative and the government of Botswana.
Executive Director for the Botswana Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre Of Excellence (COE), Gabriel M. Anabwani, revealed that since 2005, the need to have a programme for teenagers has become urgent.
He named the successful implementation of the Prevention of Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme as one of the reasons why the children born with HIV live longer than others before them.
They currently have about 600 children between the ages of 13 and 19 on treatment and they are expecting the number to halve because of programmes like PMTCT and the successful roll-out of the ARV treatment. He said that in the past it has been proven that HIV/AIDS affected adolescents tend to adhere against taking their medication and their virus tends to come back stronger.
“Adolescents are at an age where they are exploring their sexuality and rebel against authority and are therefore in a position to be of harm to themselves or other teenagers. We need this programme to help successfully maintain low virus levels,” said Anabwani.
Member of Parliament for Tati East, Simon Guma Moyo, who has been appointed to chair the fundraising committee, said that they are currently targeting companies that can assist with building materials.
The COE is currently calling for local volunteers to step up and offer their services for whichever field they feel comfortable in enrolling. The centre currently has a lot of overseas volunteers.
“We will be knocking on each and every door of any company that can help us with building materials because at the end of the day, we intend to have the structure up and running by the end of the year,” said Moyo.