The Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, has commended a doctor for his new novel, which he said represents both an individual determination to turn the HIV/AIDS pandemic around and a zeal to achieve the Vision 2016 goal of an HIV free generation.
HIV remains an enormous issue affecting an estimated 30 million people of which 50 percent are in Eastern and Southern Africa. In Botswana, research has shown that the group aged 15 to 25 is the most affected.
The novel, A Deadly Twist of Faith, written by Dr. Caleb Nondo was officially re-launched by Matlhabaphiri at the Cresta Lodge. Matlhabaphiri believes that the book will aid the battle against the pandemic, especially amongst the youth.
He said that if efforts to fight the scourge are redoubled, Vision 2016 will be achieved and Botswana’s future leaders would be free of the pandemic. He said the 15 to 25-year group requires the most intensive efforts to remain HIV free.
“As the range of medical and social knowledge about the virus increases, it is clear that the effective communication of knowledge about HIV and AIDS to the youth must incorporate aspects of physical, social and psychological perspectives as related to reproductive health,” the Assistant Minister said, adding that the perspectives help in laying a foundation to understanding HIV and AIDS while reflecting the issues most frequently raised by young people.
Matlhabaphiri also emphasized that the teaching of life skills in schools is vital.
“Our children must achieve core competencies in areas such as self awareness, values, goal setting and social responsibility,” he said.
Nondo, who has written four other novels on HIV/AIDS, also reiterated that HIV affects mostly the youth in Botswana, noting that schools are catchment areas for the message to be instilled.
He said the book will also be launched in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“I have been reliably informed that the Minister of Health South Africa also sees the book in encouraging voluntary testing among the youth,” Nondo said.
In A deadly Twist of Faith, Nondo tells the story about an innocent young girl who unwittingly receives a blood transfusion from a blood donor in the window period of HIV infection. He addresses stigma and behaviour change, life skills and voluntary testing as educational themes in the book.
As a general practitioner, his clinic is an integral partner in the Botswana antiretroviral rollout programme; he is also a member of the Botswana Chapter of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society.
He said his inspiration to write came from both his parents. “I learnt my father was an unpublished prolific writer; later in life, that pushed me even further to write, especially because my mother thought at some point that like my father, I would write but not get published,” he said.
Nondo has a particular interest in HIV and HIV related illnesses and established a publishing company, Botshelo Publishing, in 2003, “as his own consultancy venture, producing HIV and AIDS related publications for various audiences”.
An online profile of Nondo reveals that his two other fictional books deal with the subjects of stigma, the importance of voluntary testing and the need for behavioral change.
He has also written two non-fiction reference books that center around HIV and AIDS, as well as human reproductive biology, with the aim to provide relevant life-skills information and AIDS awareness in schools.
In his speech, Minister Matlhabaphiri said that Botswana so far has made great strides in the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
“Our HIV rollout program is recognized worldwide as being in a class of its own. Botswana stands tall in the fight against HIV and AIDS and, as a country, we are committed to maintain the momentum,” he said.
Nondo said 10 copies of his book will be donated to the Ministry of Health library.