Francistown Mayor, Isaac Nyeku has called on Batswana to be conscious of human rights recognition in order to be able to fight the HIV/Aids scourge. Nyeku, who was addressing a Human Rights and HIV/Campaign day organized by the Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/Aids (BONELA) in Francistown last week, stressed that there is need for Batswana to empower themselves with the components of human rights, which they should incorporate in order to respond to the HIV/Aids challenge.
“Through human rights consciousness, people can be able to address stigma and discrimination associated with HIV/Aids,” he said.
He revealed that the concept of human rights itself is not foreign to the nation as, traditionally, Batswana have always aspired to the value of “Botho”, which dictates that the existence of human beings is inextricably linked with that of the community, adding that it should be reflected in the human values of the community.
Nyeku also mentioned that discrimination and stigma continue to hamper access to prevention and treatment, especially by marginalized communities who fear victimization by virtue of their nationality, gender or sexual orientation.
“Other minorities, such as people living with disabilities, require tailored information, education and communication materials, thus actualizing universal access to prevention messages, pre and post test counseling and strengthen adherence to treatment for those who are HIV/Aids positive,” said Nyeku.
He implored the nation at large to try and address such issues, indicating that although they are controversial, the public needs not to shy away from controversy but openly discuss and seek solutions to the gaps that need to be filled. He highlighted that Vision 2016 is just near which calls for an urgent need to ensure that by that year there should be zero new infections.
“This can be done by holding each individual’s humanity, thus ensuring universality of access to HIV/Aids prevention messages and mechanisms as well as treatment,” he said.
Nyeku went further to indicate that it is a milestone for BONELA to host such an event, which has helped to bring together government, civil society and the corporate world to address issues of human rights and HIV/Aids pandemic.
The campaign was organized by BONELA and DMSAC as a way of sensitizing the public, especially the youth on the importance of observing human rights and incorporating them into HIV/Aids awareness.