USAID Sends Healthcare Workers to Combat AIDS in Namibia

Namibia_HealthThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently deployed over 100 new healthcare workers to combat HIV/AIDS in Namibia, where the epidemic has taken hold of rural areas.

The 2.1 million people of Namibia are very dispersed throughout the country, which makes it particularly challenging to combat health problems and educate the population about HIV/AIDS. Nationally, 13 percent of the population of Namibia is infected with HIV/AIDS, and in some regions prevalence is over 36 percent. Women and the youth are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS in Namibia.

While 13 percent of the population is still a huge number of people, HIV/AIDS prevalence has decreased since 2010, when the disease affected 18 percent of the Namibian population. This is due to a massive scaling-up of programs designed to treat and educate Namibian citizens on HIV/AIDS, and significant help from organizations like USAID, PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and the Global Fund.

The Namibian government has been very active in putting foreign funds to use. Namibia’s National Strategic Framework for HIV and AIDS outlines a multi-pronged approach to combatting AIDS. Major components are: preventing mother-to-child transmission, contraceptive distribution, voluntary counseling and testing, care for those living with AIDS and stigma reduction.

Not only has prevalence been steadily decreasing, but deaths from the disease have as well, thanks to the increased support for those living with HIV/AIDS. In 2006, 2,622 Namibians died from AIDS, but in 2010 just 359. Going beyond just prevention measures and providing support for those living with HIV/AIDS demonstrates the Namibian government’s commitment to addressing the needs of everyone in their population.

The 100 new healthcare workers are joining a team of 400 medical professionals from PEPFAR and USAID already working in Namibia. The Namibian deputy minister of social and health services thanked the United States upon the arrival of the new workers, stating that “The government and its people are extremely grateful for this support, which has gone a long way in building healthy communities.”

Given the impressive scaling up of HIV/AIDS prevention measures by the Namibian government and the increased support from the United States and elsewhere, officials are confident that continued efforts will be able to continue to eradicate HIV/AIDS in Namibia. The United States Ambassador expressed his optimism for Namibia’s next generation, saying “I believe Namibia will achieve an AIDS-free generation”…but that achievement will come because we work together – hand in hand – Namibians and Americans.”

John English

Photo: Flickr