The private sector has been encouraged to join hands with the government to help in the fight against HIV/AIDS to create a healthy and productive workforce as well as increase opportunities for business growth.
The Assistant Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Dr Gloria Somolekae, was addressing a meeting for private sector Chief Executive Officers at Cresta Lodge on Thursday.
She said AIDS is a long term epidemic that requires a predictable commitment of resources in the long term.
“The continuing trend of new infections requires that we be more focused as this still puts us in a precarious situation,” she said.
Somolekae said the classification of Botswana as a middle income country came with challenges as it led to diminishing support from most international donors who felt the country was now at a stage where it could sustain itself. She said there is need for innovative domestic resource mobilisation strategies to help enhance the fight against the scourge, adding that “AIDS is robbing us of the resources we need for other developments”.
The assistant minister was echoing the words of NACA’s National Coordinator, Richard Matlhare, who spoke at the World AIDS Day Press Conference held two days earlier at the Mogoditshane/Thamaga sub-district office in Mogoditshane.
Matlhare said there is need for all sectors to keep the commitments they have made to fight HIV/AIDS by way of collective effort from various sectors or organisations as a response to curb the spread of HIV.
“Increasing the involvement of all partners in raising awareness and education is key to addressing the drivers of the epidemic,” Matlhare said.
He said Botswana is among the countries with the highest HIV prevalence rate second only to Swaziland.
“You will agree with me that our interventions so far have had a positive impact on the epidemic. While the 15┬á000 new infections per annum are worrisome, Botswana has managed to reduce the number of AIDS related deaths,” he said.
The theme for this year’s World AIDS Day, which will be commemorated in Mogoditshane on December 1st, is: Getting to Zero: Zero New HIV Infections, Zero Stigma and Zero AIDS related deaths.
President Ian Khama is expected to be the guest speaker.