Monday, December 14, 2009

African Minister Calls For Truck Drivers To Help Fight HIV AIDS

Cross Border Activities are Aggravating the Problem
Shipping News Feature

BOTSWANA – AFRICA – The Namibian Deputy Minister of Youth, National Service, Sports and Culture, Mr Pohamba Shifela, has pointed out the need for freight truck drivers to be educated in the matter of HIV/AIDS infection. The epidemic which has swept across the continent is in part being fuelled by drivers who cross borders routinely, having sexual encounters in different countries and exacerbated by the activities of prostitutes who frequent the crossing points and the Trans Kalahari highway.

The minister’s remarks were fully supported by Mr Botshelo Lekgothu, Deputy Kgosi * of Ghanzi, who said alcohol and drug use were other contributory factors. The Cross Border HIV/AIDS Youth Mass Campaign began in Namibia in 2007 and has since been extended to Botswana, South Africa, Angola and Zambia. The ministers from various countries insisted that the cross border mass campaign strategy model should be extended to as many African countries as possible.

One in six people in Botswana has HIV, second only in infection rate to neighbouring Swaziland and the epidemic has had a disastrous effect on the country’s economy. By implementing a programme of free retro viral immunisation and treatment and awareness programmes infection rates from mothers to new born infants have been cut dramatically but the average life expectancy of a citizen had dropped from 65 to 35 years by 2006.

Kgosi * is a “King Chief” in the Tswana language.