Although Namibia has gone beyond achieving the HIV fast-track targets of UNAIDS by ensuring more than 90% of people living with HIV know their status and are on treatment while their viral load is suppressed, Windhoek mayor Job Amupanda believes more needs to be done in the battle against the global epidemic.
According to Amupanda, the city is yet to achieve the necessary target under the Fast-Track Cities initiative, which is a pledge by global cities to fulfil a commitment to end HIV, tuberculosis, and viral hepatitis epidemics by 2030.
During a courtesy visit to Amupanda yesterday, UNAIDS country director Dr Alti Zwandor revealed Windhoek’s fast-track targets stood at 85-89-73.
This essentially means 85% of people living with HIV in Windhoek know their status, 89% of people who know their positive status are on treatment, while 73% of people on treatment have a suppressed viral load.
“So you need to work hard by distributing condoms to the people at the grassroots and other things because Windhoek alone has over 80% of people that are living with HIV in the country,” said Zwandor. On his part, the mayor explained global cities are now uniquely positioned to lead fast-track action toward achieving 95-95-95 targets by 2030.
“We can stop all new HIV infections and avert Aids-related deaths, including deaths caused by tuberculosis.
We can end stigma and discrimination. Every person in our cities must have access to life-saving HIV and tuberculosis prevention, treatment, care and support services,” he said.
“Although the country is doing well, for Windhoek we are very below 90% in all three actions. It is a shame to the country.
We are doing better on prevention because we scored high than the country, we are not managing the HIV question as a city, we need to take the statistics seriously, and we are going to be committed to the Paris declaration of 2014.”
He said the city health department leadership will develop initiatives and engage with the community and transfer the skills and also have a broader level of building capacity as well as encourage training to make sure the city reach its target.
“We have a lot of issues that happen in the informal settlement, hence we need to do research. The community health workers were not recognised as essential workers during the Covid-19 initiatives but our community workers must be declared as essential workers,” said Amupanda.