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Over 9 000 children receiving HIV treatment in Namibia …as health spends close to half a billion on ARVs

by Rodney Pienaar

The ministry of health and social services has revealed that there are at least 9 182 children who are actively on Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) while an estimated 8 209 to 10 124 are children living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

 Meanwhile the ministry spent N$405 859 607.70 on antiretroviral medication distributed to health facilities country wide between April 2017 and March this year.

Statistics revealed that 17 551 Namibians tested positive for HIV out of 483 996 people who were tested between April 2017 and March of this year. 

Also, a total of 16 808 people were newly enrolled for HIV care and treatment during the year.

These March 2018 statistics were availed by the ministry’s special programmes directorate which also said that, “Social workers and health care providers provide psychosocial support services for both adults and children after an initial HIV positive diagnosis. Patients/clients can continue to access psychosocial counseling services based on their needs".

The ministry said that ideally by the age of 10 children should be told of their HIV status in a “safe and supportive” way.

“The child will be enrolled in HIV disclosure activities and his/her progress will be recorded at each visit on the appropriate form in the Paediatric Patient Care Booklet,” the directorate said.

Children living with HIV also undergo different counselling, from what adults living with the virus are offered.

These services would be individualised depending on their age and readiness for disclosure.

“The caregiver will be engaged in the discussions about disclosure until full HIV disclosure. The process of disclosure to the child can start as early as 6 years,” the ministry said.

There are currently 374 public health facilities providing HIV treatment and care services for people living with HIV country wide, while all 36 hospitals in the country also have Communicable Disease Clinics which provide specialised Antiretroviral treatment.

“There are also 40 health centres and 298 clinics providing ART throughout the country.   In addition, there are 37 Community Based ART (CBART) and 53 Community Adherence Clubs (CAC) where people living in remote areas and have difficulty of accessing the facility based treatment service can access treatment close to their place of residence,” the ministry of health said.