The government of Namibia has revealed that HIV/Aids has remained the leading cause of death among adults and the sixth-leading cause among children under the age of five in Namibia, despite efforts to roll back the epidemic.
Addressing an orientation session for the first 100 HIV/Aids auxiliary health workers trained with US assistance in Ongwediva in the north of the country, deputy health minister Juliet Kavetuna said the high mortality rate was caused by a nationwide scarcity of doctors, nurses and auxiliary healthcare workers.
“The public health sector has fewer than two healthcare workers per 1 000 people, with greater gaps in the rural areas. The situation is worsened by an average health worker’s attrition rate of 5%. Currently, about 68% of HIV -positive people are receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART).
“However, HIV testing among pregnant women is very high with 95% of them knowing their status. More than 90% of pregnant women enrolled for prevention of mother-to-child-transmission programmes,” the deputy minister said.
At least 42500 people eligible to receive antiretroviral drugs were not yet on the treatment programme due to the countrywide shortage of healthcare staff. Youths aged 10-19 were one of the most affected age groups, while women aged 15 and above suffered higher reinfection rates when compared with their male counterparts.
An estimated 2.6% of children in the 0-15-year age group were HIV positive. Kavetuna said most of the affected children were born of mothers who chose not to go for prenatal medical checks or declined to enrol in prevention of mother-to-child-transmission programmes, although government offered such services free of charge.
The newly trained auxiliary health workers will be deployed to the districts of Onandjokwe, Omuthiya, Tsumeb, Oshikuku, Andara, Nyangana, Engela and Grootfontein to identify HIV/Aids patients and put them on free treatment programmes.
– African News Agency (ANA)