Acting senior health programme officer for the Directorate of Health and Social Services in the ||Kharas Region, Serolda Golley said at least 111 children between the ages of 0 and 19 in the Keetmanshoop district are living with HIV/AIDS.
Keetmanshoop district includes Keetmanshoop town, Bethanie, Berseba, Tses, Aroab and Koës and surrounding areas. The district consists of one hospital, two health centres and five clinics serving a population of over 38 000.
Golley revealed these statistics here on Friday during the commemoration of World AIDS Day organised by the Keetmanshoop Municipality under the theme ‘Awareness of stigma against children living with HIV/AIDS’.
She said out of the 111 children, 27 are 9 years and above and they know their HIV status and know why they are taking their medications.
Golley said the region has come a long way in reducing HIV among children, however the ministry faces challenges and needs assistance from parents, guardians, caregivers, life skills teachers, stakeholders,
hostel matrons and the community at large.
She further said such assistance from the community include reducing stigma and discrimination against children living with HIV, providing psychosocial support, involving life skills teachers at local schools, involving community leaders in management of children living with HIV and breaking cultural barriers.
‘The ball and responsibility fall in our hands to make our living environment safe for our children, free of stigma and discrimination, we as the health ministry cannot achieve this alone and need your support to attain a stigma-free world,’ she urged.
Chairperson of the management committee of the Keetmanshoop Municipality, Johannes Vries said knowledge is the most potent weapon in the battle against HIV/AIDS, adding that awareness empowers people to break down barriers, encourage early detection and ultimately save lives.
‘As a community, we must champion education, promote inclusivity, and offer unwavering support to those affected. Let us not forget the
power of compassion, in our pursuit of awareness, let empathy guide our actions, by doing so, we not only uplift individuals living with HIV/AIDS but also contribute to the creation of a society where judgment is replaced by understanding,’ said Vries.
He said everyone within the community has a role to play in the fight against HIV whether it’s through advocacy, education or support, while collective efforts can make a difference.
‘Together, let us embark on this journey towards a world where compassion prevails, stigma crumbles, and HIV/AIDS is no longer a barrier to a life of dignity and fulfilment,’ he said.
Source: Namibia Press Agency (NAMPA)