[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
WINDHOEK (PLUSNEWS) - A giant bright yellow condom
was the centre of attraction in Namibia's capital, Windhoek, last
Friday. Namibian civil society organisations - united in the
fight against HIV/AIDS - had kicked off a series of activities in
the run-up to World AIDS Day on 1 December.
"By December 2003 over 100,000 HIV/AIDS cases were [officially]
reported in Namibia," deputy health minister Dr Richard Kamwi
told the crowd assembled around the condom. "Although these
figures are extreme, it should be noted that it is only the tip
of the iceberg."
Namibia is a signatory to the UN's Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs), agreed in 2000 as a 15-year blueprint for achieving a
more peaceful, prosperous and just world through a series of
Prime Minister Theo-Ben Gurirab released Namibia's progress
report earlier this month, warning that the single greatest
challenge in meeting the MDGs was to "win the war against poverty
"While the challenge of HIV/AIDS is formidable, it is one that
can be overcome. We know from experiences throughout the world
and around the continent what it takes to turn the tide against
AIDS in terms of leadership; in terms of resources; in terms of
focus on prevention, treatment and care," said UN Resident
Coordinator Jacqui Badcock, speaking at the release of the
She called for zero tolerance towards those that perpetrate
stigma and discrimination against women and girls, and people
living with HIV/AIDS.
Namibia currently ranks as the country with the seventh highest
HIV infection rate. One in five Namibians aged 15 to 49 is HIV
positive, with women and children especially hard hit.
According to the MDG progress report, HIV prevalence among women
aged 20 to 24 increased from 11 percent in 1994 to 22 percent in
2002, and a young girl today has a 25 percent risk of dying of an
AIDS-related illness before her 30th birthday. In some parts of
Namibia, between 50 and 70 percent of hospital admissions are
Earlier this year the government finalised its third medium-term
plan in the fight against AIDS, to guide strategy from 2004 to
2009. Free antiretroviral treatment at the larger state hospitals
started in 2003 and is now offered in each of the 13 regions. The
goal is to have 5,000 people on treatment by 2005.
Private sector initiatives provide voluntary testing and
counselling centres; the Namibia Business Coalition against AIDS
was established; and a Charter of Rights and Code on HIV/AIDS in
Employment have been completed, defining the legal and human
rights of people living with HIV and AIDS.
Yet it is predicted that there will be about 100,000 orphans in
the country by 2005, up from 87,000 in 2002.
The progress report noted that Namibia needed development
assistance and support to design programmes to address the fight
against HIV/AIDS and the shortage of trained human resources.
But development aid has dropped by half, from US $130 per capita
in 1990 to just $60, with a number of development partners
gradually reducing their grant assistance to Namibia.
"The main reason seems to be Namibia's international
classification as a middle-income country," the report commented.
"This report must accordingly serve as a platform and a tool to
assist in advocating that Namibia should have the same
compassionate treatment as other Least Developed Countries,"
For more details: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/