Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome Remarks at the Launch of the Multiple and Concurrent Partnerships Campaign (MCP) by Mr. Batho Christopher Molomo

Republic of Botswana (10/3/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 6 of 2009
The Weekly Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President “Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline”

B2) 5/3/09: Welcome Remarks at the Launch of the Multiple and Concurrent Partnerships Campaign (MCP) by Mr. Batho Christopher Molomo, the National Coordinator of the National AIDS Coordinating Agency

Salutations...Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. On behalf of all our stakeholders in the National Response to HIV and AIDS, I want to extend a warm welcome to you and appreciate your presence at this historic event. We are gathered here today to launch a major HIV Prevention initiative that demonstrates our resolve as a nation to arrest the spread of HIV towards achieving the goal of no new infections by 2016.

2. My role this morning is also to provide some background information relating to why we are here such that I lay the platform on which today’s event will unfold. Here in Botswana and globally, there is a renewed emphasis on the importance of scaling up efforts to prevent sexual transmission of HIV. As in earlier efforts, our approach is to understand the dynamics of our epidemic, in particular the key drivers of the epidemic. To this end, several qualitative and quantitative research and analyses have been conducted both locally and elsewhere. As a result, we have identified multiple and concurrent partnerships to be one of the key drivers of HIV infection in this country. The challenge now is how we will deal with this deadly driver.

3. In our search for solutions, Botswana has in 2008 developed the National Operational Plan for Scaling Up HIV Prevention. We are therefore here today to share how we now plan to operationalise this Plan, that is, how we aim to deal with multiple and concurrent partnerships.

4. As we deliberate today on the way forward, we should be mindful of the considerable progress we have made so far as a nation, towards improving access to prevention, care, treatment and support services for Batswana. We note the achievements we have made, particularly in areas that are critical for the prevention of HIV transmission, such as increasing access to HIV testing services; increasing accessibility to and consistent condom use; and delayed adolescent sexual debut. These achievements suggest that some impact on the sexual behaviour of our people has been made.

5. These notable achievements should ideally have impacted positively on incidence of HIV. If this is true, then the necessary evidence is not visible yet. It this is true the impact is not significant such that the epidemic can be reversed. HIV infection continues to spread in the country. The challenge continues, hence the need to continue searching for solutions.

6. The Mid-Term Review of the Botswana National Strategic Framework for HIV/AIDS (2003-2009) notes that, “our focus must be to strengthen prevention efforts and our prevention efforts have to work… as Prevention is our one and only real survival strategy.”

7. It is in response to this call that we are here today. Your presence here today marks a key turning point in our journey and like always, we will continue to be true ambassadors. Know that the lives of many today, those who have gone on, and those who will follow us, depend upon you and your leadership, commitment and strength as you provide leadership

8. Let me in particular welcome our esteemed guests from Namibia, Honourable Members of Namibia Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resources, Social and Community Development. It is my hope that this event today will provide them with an opportunity to learn and teach. We eager to learn from their experiences. Welcome dear neighbours.

9. I also have the honour and privilege to welcome of Keynote Speaker, the Speaker of the National Assembly Honourable Patrick Balopi. This is indeed a privilege for most of us as he is a man expansive experience and deep intellect. We welcome your Sir. Ladies and gentlemen you are all welcome. Enjoy.

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