Botswana has made remarkable progress in its AIDS response since the discovery of HIV in the late 1980s. Between 2010 and 2017, Botswana has reduced the number of AIDS-related deaths by 31%. Mother-to child transmission of HIV has been reduced to less than 1000 children in 2017, with HIV treatment reaching over 90% of pregnant women. New HIV infections has decreased by 4% since 2010, and the repvalence of HIV incidence is 0.04 in 2017.
Part of the success of this response has been that civil society has always played an important role in ensuring a community-based approach to policy development and programme implementation.
“Civil society’s commitment to implement our plans together with all partners will make a difference and bring the talk about Ending AIDS in 2030 closer to reality. But to do this we cannot work in isolation as civil society,” said Kgoreletso Molosiwa, from the Botswana Network of People Living with HIV and AIDS, during a structured dialogue for civil society, community-based organisations on 19 and 20 November 2018 in Gaborone, Botswana
The country has recently finalized its third National Strategic Framework on HIV/AIDS (NSF III 2018–2023), which includes innovative strategies for the next five years and calls for all partners to work together towards ending AIDS as a public health threat by 2030. The NSF III provides a platform for an integrated approach for health-related targets with a view to Ending AIDS.
“The future of effective and efficient services lies in collaboration, partnership and co-creation. We can no longer plan for our people, but must plan with our people. We need to come up with solutions with our people, said Ruth Maphorisa, Permeant Secretary, Ministry of Health and Wellness.
The dialogue was organized by the Government of Botswana, UNAIDS, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and Botswana Network of Aids Services Organisation, in order for civil society to share a common understanding on the strategic shifts and opportunities in the NSF III.
The dialogue reinvigorated and reinforced energies and partnerships for an enhanced and effective development response to Ending AIDS by 2030 as a public health threat in the national context.
“We can no longer take the “one size fit for all” approach for the epidemic. There is now ample evidence that there are mini-epidemics in specific locations affecting key and vulnerable populations. Civil society partners need to tailor the implementation based on this evidence,” said Jyothi Raja Nilambur Kovilakam, UNAIDS Country Director in Botswana.