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Linking efforts in addressing HIV and sexual reproductive health (SRH) as a one stop shop produce mutually reinforcing progress, Ministry of Health acting deputy permanent secretary (preventive services) has said.

Dr Refeletswe Lebelonyane said at the handover ceremony for the SRHR/HIV and AIDS linkages integration project in Mochudi that such efforts also improved health outcome of community members and led to achievement of the health-related millennium development goals (MDGs). 

Dr Lebelonyane said Botswana was fortunate to have formed strategic partnership with the United Nations (UN), European Union (EU) and others who supported government in its efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality, increase unmet family planning needs for both men and women regardless of their HIV status as well as achieve the Vision 2016 goal of “no new infections by 2016”.

Furthermore, she said although various HIV and SRH programmes had been set up and services already reaching the public, they had not been as effective as anticipated largely due to verticalisation of programmes as well as provision of service as reported by the client or patient.

As a result, she said there was a need for the country to adapt and adopt the piloting of SRH/HIV linkages as a one-stop-shop, “if we are to improve the health outcomes of our communities.”

Head of Botswana/EU operations, Mr Rigo Belpaire shared some of the results that emerged in other countries participating in the project. Mr Belpaire said the project had brought among other things an increase in the use of contraception as well as in HIV-testing.

However, he regretted a decrease in stigma and discrimination as everybody would be entering through the same door, independently of their status. All of this, he said, was also clearly connected to progress on the MDGs and reduction of first and foremost maternal and child mortality.

He also said integration of services made economic sense as there was need for one room and one person to deal with all the different needs of the care-seeker. He said the EU was proud to be associated with the project, adding “for me, this is a true win-win opportunity and really a no-brainer.”

UNAIDS country coordinator, Dr Sun Gang said following up on the Maputo Plan of Action, Botswana government had expressed interest to be included among pilot countries in the region considered for financial support by EU to address barriers to efficient linkages between HIV and SRHR policies and services.

He added that the project was not a parallel project but meant to augment the currently existing services within the health, SRH and HIV/AIDS programme intervention and services.

Also critical for the execution of the project was the development of relevant guiding documents such as the SRH/HIV Integration Strategy, Monitoring and Evaluation Plan and Visibility Plan.

The joint partnership of EU/UNFPA and UNAIDS donated supplies to the Ministry of Health for the pilot areas which included Mochudi, Mahalapye and Letlhakeng district health management teams.

Two branded porta-cabins would augment space in Mochudi Clinic 1 and Otse Health post in Mahalapye.

Medical equipment including among others examination lamps, medicine trolleys, and electronic suction machines were also donated as well as office furniture and stationery for each district. ENDS

Source : BOPA

Author : Lindi Morwaeng

Location : Molepolole

Event : Handover ceremony

Date : Jun 02 Sun,2013