source: Republic of Botswana (28/2/10) TAUTONA TIMES no 3 of 2010
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
“Democracy, Development, Dignity, Discipline and Delivery”
B8) 24/2/10: REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY THE FORMER PRESIDENT MR. FESTUS G. MOGAE AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE MINISTRY OF HEALTH’S DEPARTMENT OF HIV/AIDS PREVENTION AND CARE WEBSITE
[Salutations]...Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
1. Allow me to start by thanking you for inviting me to launch such an important and modern facility with the intention of spreading information on HIV and AIDS, one of the greatest enemies of humankind.
2. You will all agree with me that the HIV/AIDS pandemic remains one of the greatest challenges the world has had to contend with. While we recognize that some inroads have been made toward ameliorating the human suffering brought by this scourge, we have to painfully accept that the cure for HIV and AIDS and its preventive vaccine are still remote. We are still faced with an epidemic that is claiming lives despite the wide availability of ARVs.
3. While health scientists are working around the clock to find a vaccine our efforts must, in the meantime, focus on the prevention of the spread of HIV and provision of support services for both the infected and affected. When I say our efforts I am not only referring to government but also to communities and individuals.
4. This is a challenge facing everybody and therefore calls for everybody to have concerted effort to reduce the spread HIV. We all have a crucial role to play and behaviour change is our greatest defense.
5. As you are all aware we have come a long way since the first HIV/AIDS case was diagnosed 25 years ago in Botswana in 1985. The Country, through committed leadership from all sectors, and support from international development partners, has made commendable strides in combating the epidemic through establishing programmes focusing on prevention and prolonging the life of people who would otherwise have succumbed to AIDS.
6. However, despite these strides we still face the major challenge of inadequate behaviour change. The irony of it all is that though there is high HIV/AIDS awareness in Botswana, behaviour change seems to be lagging behind. Some of the social ills identified as fueling the spread of HIV include Multiple Concurrent Sexual Partners, Sexual Abuse, Unsafe Sexual Practices and Alcohol and Substance Abuse.
7. These practices are a function of lack of individual responsibility, accountability and discipline. Individual responsibility, accountability and self-discipline are paramount in the prevention of this epidemic. This is the message that we must continue to preach to our people, particularly the youth who are the future of this nation.
8. Honourable Minister of Health and your staff, I commend you for the launching of the Department of HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care website because this is a demonstration of the leadership that we need if we are to effectively spread information and knowledge about HIV and AIDS and the need for behaviour change.
9. The launching of your website provides us with the opportunity to inspire each other and to encourage meaningful participation and involvement of everybody including the general public. It also us of where we have come from, to think about and appreciate where we are, and to strategically plan as to where we are going.
10. One of the Pillars of our Vision 2016 is an Educated and Informed Nation, and the launching of this website is a contribution towards fulfilling this vision because you are empowering people with the necessary knowledge and information on available services using modern information and communication technologies.
11. The demonstration of the content of the various pages of the website reveals how relevant documents on HIV/AIDS can be accessed in the virtual library with ease by members of the public. It also engages people on issues that fuel the epidemic through discussion forums including giving information on services available to them and up-to-date HIV statistics.
12. What better way of dialoguing these issues head on but through a technology that can allow conversations to take place in real time; a technology that will tell a story of our people before the scourge and their courageous struggle; government commitment to save its nation from perishing; and partnerships involved in implementing various programs published in the website.
13. This highly interactive technology has unique features such as Face-book that engage the youth and provide a platform for conversations and feedback on current issues of national interest and is also linked to the HIV/AIDS call centre. The expectation is that as we are dialoguing on these issues, it will lead to better understanding of our epidemic and the need for behaviour change.
14. I am also informed that this website is hosted internationally for the purposes of high speed and accessibility even during times when our local networks are down.
15. Allow me to conclude by inviting everybody to visit this new website, www.hiv.gov.bw, and join the information super highway at the click of a button.
16. Director of Ceremonies, with these few words I declare the Ministry of Health HIV/AIDS website officially launched. Enjoy the journey! I thank you for your attention.