April 10, 2003

Cross-border programme against AIDS

The Red Cross Societies of Botswana, Namibia and Zambia have launched a joint home-based care programme for HIV-AIDS patients across the borders of the Caprivi Region where the prevalence rate is an alarming 43 per cent. The aim of the initiative is to establish a common approach to tackling the HIV-AIDS pandemic in the three countries while taking into consideration the varying situations of the three nations, says the Namibia Red Cross Society. The targeted areas are the Caprivi Region in Namibia, the Chobe District in Botswana and the Sesheke District in Zambia.

Forty-three home-based caregivers from the three areas recently took part in the first phase of the training project when they dealt with such issues as basic nursing and sexually transmitted infections. The second phase is underway at Katima Mulilo in the Caprivi where participants are being taught about home-based care giving.

Statistics indicate that the HIV-AIDS prevalence is 43 per cent in the Caprivi, 50 per cent in the Chobe District in Botswana and between 30 to 35 per cent in Zambia's Sesheke District. Cross-border movement between the three countries has been identified as a major factor in the spread of the HIV-AIDS infection rate in the three areas.

Funding for the project was made possible through an initial grant of around N$140 million from the governments of Sweden and Ireland. Funding is, however, expected to swell. Other donor agencies have indicated their willingness to donate funds. Seven other SADC countries are covered: Zimbabwe; Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, and Angola.

The countries worst affected by the HIV-AIDS pandemic in the world are: Botswana where the prevalence rate among people in the age group 15 to 49 is 38,8 per cent; Lesotho (31 per cent), Swaziland (25,3 per cent); Zimbabwe (25,1 per cent) and Namibia (23,3 per cent). (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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