The private sector has been urged to develop a more proactive approach towards the local fight of HIV/AIDS, especially now when government is under pressure to sustain the existing cohorts of people on anti-retroviral treatment.
Involvement of the private sector in the response to HIV and AIDS has been limited to the implementation of a minimum package that advocated for condoms distributions, peer education, information dissemination as part of the workplace programs.
“There is need to elevate the private sector responsibility from an operational and programmatic level of workplace programmes to that of a strategic partner in the planning, mobilization of resources, development and oversight of the national response,” said Frank Phatshwa, Programs Manager of the Botswana Business Coalition On AIDS.
“Private sector possesses great expertise and capacity in resource mobilization far much beyond any other sector in the HIV and AIDS arena and could supplement government efforts,” said Phatshwa.
During the 2009/2010 financial year, government spent P229 million on ARVs, in 2010/2012 financial year, P185 million was spent on ARVs while during 2011/2012 P217 million was spent on ARVs.
The cost does not include additional costs for laboratory tests, constant monitoring of the viral loads, detection of the CD4 counts and other test as well as payments of specialist, equipment maintenance and staff salaries.
He said the private sector has sound and solid financial management, which have become critical areas of application in the national response to HIV and AIDS.
Phatshwa said the partnership between government, private sector, and labour bodies is critical as the fight against HIV/AIDS is a public good as the epidemic can undermine the collective development effort.
The urgent call to the private sector is because HIV/AIDS is emerging as the paramount threat to investment in Africa and subverts efforts to lift people out of poverty, he said.
Phatshwa added that by joining forces with government and civil society, the private sector has an opportunity to contribute to the development and sustainability of a vibrant and productive business environment and offer a business case for prevention, care and treatment
The National Aids Coordinating Agency report revealed that the number of HIV-positive people receiving antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) for their infections jumped by more than a quarter in 2009, growing from 139,643 to178, 684 by December 2011.
Gaborone has the highest number of patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART) 18 378, followed by Francistown with 11 585. Rakops has the least with 1095.
The report revealed that plans are underway to develop a Health Insurance policy intended to promote medical cost sharing. The policy will relieve the government of the burden of ART treatment financing.