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Ministerial Workplace Policy launched
With about 85 000 people working in the public service sector of Namibia, its human service capital has been eroded by the HIV epidemic.
This remark was made by Philip Tjerije, special advisor to the Minister of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development, Jerry Ekandjo, when launching the Ministerial Workplace HIV and Aids Policy on behalf of the Minister.
The Policy is developed to form a human rights based approach and will help to prevent stigma, discrimination, empower people to respond to HIV and Aids and reduce their vulnerability to being infected.
The Ministry has also established the HIV and Aids Unit to provide strategic direction and technical support to the Ministry, Regional Councils and Local Authorities in planning, coordination, monitoring and evaluation of HIV and Aids programmes.
“HIV and Aids is no longer regarded as a health issue in the Ministry, but a development challenge,” said Tjerije.
According to him the pandemic is a scourge that has evolved as one of the greatest threats to the achievements of the Millennium Development Goals and Vision 2030.
“We cannot reduce poverty and hunger, achieve universal education, reduce child mortality rates, improve maternal health, promote gender equality and empower women unless we first fight and defeat this pandemic.”
The Ministry aims to break internal stigma through this policy by reaching out to excluded and rejected staff who are living in fear, shame and denial.
Namibia is one of the countries with the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world at 18,8%.
Although the prevalence rate is recorded to be stabilising in Namibia, it is the highest among the age group of 30 to 39, at 29%. “This is the most productive age group. These people also highly educated and skilled in specialised fields,” said Tjerije.
Sothern Africa ranks as one of the most highly infected regions of the world with more than 50 million people infected.