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- Johanna Absalom
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During a recent trip to the north, I visited someone who is very close to my heart; an 82 year old granny whom I simply adore. It was during this visit that I met a little girl. What struck me is that she kept checking her time and at 10:00 every day, she would sneak off to go and take her medicine.
As the days passed, I learned from ‘Ouma’ that the seven-year old is on anti-retroviral treatment. Even though she (the girl) does not know that she is HIV positive, it was clearly explained to her that she should take her medication to keep strong and healthy.
Her and five other children live with their grandmother who cannot read or write. She also carries the responsibility to ensure that she takes her medicine. The other children are not aware of her status.
In the wake of the 16 Days of Activism against gender based violence and the World AIDS Day commemoration that was held under the theme: ‘Getting to Zero. Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths’, it was revealed that international funding for AIDS is running dry. I started thinking about this little girl as well as the future of those on medication.
With Global Fund money running out, maybe it’s time for Namibia and other African governments to take initiative and find a solution to address the funding gap. I think governments should start funding and putting more money into AIDS projects rather than using tax payers’ money on other unnecessary stuff, like for example, buying Mercs for ministers. I know the responsibility lies with all of us but decision making lies with government, hence they have an obligation to implement, approve and advocate for projects that benefit citizens.
Government should start prioritising on how to spend tax payers’ money. Should it be spent on luxurious vehicles which will only benefit a certain few or should we use the funds for an initiative that will benefit a greater cause? How about we stop to build more million dollar State Houses and address more pertinent issues affecting the most vulnerable people in our society?
How about we stop losing money through financing corrupt deals?
A lot of money is already being lost annually due to mismanagement and corruption; so the state as well as non-governmental organisations cannot afford to run out of funds given the state of poverty and limited access to resources in impoverished communities.
Now, to secure the future of this girl and prolong the lives of those who are HIV positive, the state and us as citizens should not sit back and wait for funds to fall in our laps.
We can establish our own fund. We can even start projects in order to source funds. With such a fund in place, we can then source supplementary funding from non-governmental organisations and donors to complement what is already there. This will also help our country to become self sufficient and independent in developing and funding wellness projects.
Who knows, we can even achieve a zero infection rate before we know it. But that can only happen if we act now.
I know we can make it a success. Look at the flood relief initiative under the Office of the Prime Minister. They managed to source funds from local businesses as well as internationally. The same can be done for the AIDS cause.
On another matter, with the festive season looming, as we travel to favoured destinations, let’s drive safely and avoid reckless driving at all cost. May we offer a helping hand to those in need. Lets take care and remember, we are striving to achieve“Getting to Zero. Zero New HIV Infections. Zero Discrimination and Zero AIDS Related Deaths”!
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