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Saturday, 21 March 2009

HIV/AIDS victims hard hit

GABORONE - People living with HIV/AIDS will suffer a great deal due to lack of funds if the economic crisis does not improve, says an Economic Impact Study conducted by the National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA). 

The 2006 study states that the global economic meltdown is going to have a negative impact on the government as well as NGOs whose mandate is to fight the HIV/AIDS scourge.

Chief Planning Officer at NACA, Mr Robinson Dimbungu said in an interview after the Media Consultation Workshop organised by NACA in Gaborone recently that the global economic meltdown has affected the mining industry, which largely generates the countrys revenue.

He said therefore if the situation does not improve, the government and NGOs will be forced to cut their budget directed to HIV/AIDS hence people taking Anti-Retro-Viral drugs (ARV) may no longer have freee access to the drugs.

He added that the government contributes about 80 per cent on HIV/AIDS prevention programmes and treatment, whereas stakeholders contribute only 20 per cent.

The aim of the workshop was to initiate a dialogue around the mechanisms that may be required to ensure a more strategic role for the media in the national response.

Mr Dimbumgu therefore encouraged people to change their behaviour so that new infections do not occur as resources will not be available in the coming 10 years. Hard times are coming therefore we need to do something in order to ensure that new infections do not occur.

He encouraged those infected to practice positive behaviour, adding that if they do not do so they will be increasing the rate of infection, which will prompt the government to put them on secondary treatment, which is more expensive.

However, media practitioners emphasized that there are challenges that prevent them from being in the forefront when it comes to HIV/AIDS issues, as there is limited access to information.

They argued that NACA in particular does not involve the media on issues regarding HIV/AIDS, adding that the Economic Impact Study conducted in 2006 is news to them.

They noted that they are never informed about the results of some of the surveys conducted by the agency.

They said that it is a pity that expert sources will rather give the media in other countries interview and deny the local media interviews, hence they requested the agency to improve its communication strategy.

However the Director of MISA Mr Thapelo Ndlovu said that despite the challenges, the media contributes in information dissemination by producing newspaper supplements published on AIDS Day.

He also noted that the media in partnership with BOTUSA hold workshops to mobilise the media on HIV/AIDS related issues. BOPA

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