HIV/AIDS deaths drop from 10 000 to 4 000- Namibia


A new figures released by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief have revealed that the number of people dying of HIV-AIDS has dropped from 10 000 per year to 4 000 between 1991 and 2016 in Namibia.

The director of the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention at the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar), Mr Eric Dziuban, revealed this during a press conference in Windhoek.

Pepfar, in partnership with the ministry of health, works to align all activities within the country’s national strategic framework of HIV-AIDS.

The programme is the US government’s response to the global HIV-AIDS epidemic.

According to Mr Dziuban, Pepfar supports Namibia in three strategic areas of the prevention of HIV transmission; care and treatment of people living with HIV; and strengthening the public health system to effectively and sustainably respond to epidemics.

Currently, the number of adults (aged 15 and over) living with HIV has decreased from 240 000 to 200 000 between 1991 and 2016,” he reiterated.

“This means one out of 10 adults are infected with HIV, with 25 new infections per day, and 11 deaths related to HIV-AIDS per day” he said.

Data suggests that 70% of people living with HIV, and who are on treatment, are virally suppressed.

A patient who is virally suppressed has every chance of living a healthy life and has a greatly reduced risk of transmitting the disease,” noted Mr Dziuban.

Pepfar and the government are working to achieve the 90-90-90 target, which means ensuring that 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% people diagnosed are on ARV, and 90% of those on treatment achieve a suppressed viral load by the year 2020,” he added.

According to the team leader for the US Agency for International Development, Abeje Zegeye, explained that Pepfar supports 1 400 healthcare workers at more than 250 health facilities in eight priority regions within the country.

“The 21 Pepfar-supported sites achieved zero HIV-positive babies born to HIV-positive mothers last year,” the official said.

“It is important to note that since Pepfar began, the percentage of HIV-positive babies born to HIV-infected mothers has also reduced from 30% to below 5%,” sZegeye stated.

Pepfar also ensured that 106 000 orphans and vulnerable children have been registered for social grants, of whom 13 066 of the most vulnerable are served by community health volunteers.

For the next annual funding cycle starting in October, Pepfar will provide Namibia with $73,6 million (about N$1 billion), a slight increase over the current year funding of  $72,3 million.

Hauwa Mustapha