Saturday, December 6, 2008

World Aids Day Message by the Minister for Health Honourable Lesego e. Motsumi

source: Republic of Botswana (6/12/08): TAUTONA TIMES no 40 of 2008
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President “Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline”


1. Today marks the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. Over the last 20 years we have dedicated December 1st as the day in which we all pause to reflect on the global fight against HIV/AIDS and re-dedicate ourselves to achieving an AIDS free world.

2. The International theme for 2008 is “STOP AIDS, KEEP THE PROMISE”. It is from this that in Botswana for this World AIDS Day we have derived the theme “LEADERSHIP: Behavior Change is my key responsibility to STOP HIV and AIDS”.

3. This theme is most appropriate for our times since it symbolizes the fact that while we have made significant strides in the treatment of HIV/AIDS, behaviour change continues to be the most formidable challenge we face in halting this pandemic.

4. We can therefore only break the cycle of death and misery brought about by HIV through intensifying prevention efforts to protect everyone and the youth, being the future of our communities, deserve special attention. All this must be done while sustaining the significant gains we have made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and thus the restoration of dignity to thousands of our country men and women.

5. Let me take this opportunity to recognize the contribution of all those in our society and in the international community who have made invaluable contributions to our national response against HIV/AIDS. It is with this dedication and commitment by all that Botswana has made such significant gains as the decline of mother to child transmission of HIV from 40% to 4%; increased survival rate of HIV AIDS patients and the decline in Community Home Based Care case load from twelve hundred to three thousand five hundred. We have also seen the stabilization of the orphan population due to the wide availability of ARV therapy.

6. Bagaetsho, in the absence of the vaccine in the near future, behaviour change remains the cornerstone of HIV prevention. It has become evident that, the current social ills such as multiple concurrent sexual partners, sexual abuse, unsafe sexual practices, and alcohol abuse are fuelling the epidemic. These social ills are an indication of why our society must mobilize the responsibility, accountability, and discipline to be able to overcome HIV/AIDS. In this regard, let me take this opportunity to acknowledge the commemoration of “16 Days of Activism against gender based violence”, as it addresses such social ills as rape, defilement and other forms of sexual abuse. Let us all strive to stamp out these menaces from our midst in order to achieve victory against HIV.

7. Bagaetsho, Let me also take this opportunity to call upon every individual in our society to reflect on the role they are playing in stopping the spread of HIV. Further, I would also like each one of us to look ahead and dedicate themselves to not only staying HIV negative but helping many others to do the same by 2016. This, my fellow citizens, is the only way we can “stop AIDS and keep the promise”.

8. Lastly, I want to turn to our leaders and remind them that AIDS cannot be stopped without their full dedication to leading by those values that are enshrined in our culture and have kept in existence as a community for hundreds of years. Leaders must always strive to empower communities and advocate for a conducive environment in which we protect ourselves and each other from the perils of HIV/AIDS.


No comments: