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NAHPA commits to youth skills development to fight HIV.

Government has through the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency shown commitment to empower young people and build their skills as stakeholders in the fight against HIV.

Speaking during the second Youth HIV Summit in Gaborone on Tuesday, the Patron of Sentebale Foundation, Prince Seeiso Seeiso from Lesotho said participation by Sentebale members in the First Lady Ms Neo Masisi's national campaign to mobilise young people through schools dubbed 'Di Palametse' was gratifying.

This, Prince Seeiso said was in line with the Memorandum of Understanding between Sentebale Foundation and Botswana government, which was aimed at providing a conducive environment for the foundation to operate and reach its goals.

Sentebale Foundation is the brain child of Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex and Prince Seeiso Seeiso, who's aim is to empower new generations to seek positive change and dispel stigma in local communities, often preventing children and young people from knowing and managing their HIV status.

The foundation opened in Botswana in 2016 and has 47 clubs serving 1 238 adolescents in some remote areas. In addition, Prince Seeiso said the foundation, with assistance from District Health Management Teams (DHMT), has conducted camps during school holidays in July and December 2018.

During these camps, he said 1 115 children were reached.

One of Sentebale's Foundation achievement is the construction of a camp site in the outskirts of Tonota with a capacity of 120 children.

Officially opening the summit, NAHPA coordinator, Mr Richard Matlhare said in spite of Botswana being recognised as a success story in the fight against

HIV and AIDS, the country was still challenged by the trend of the epidemic among the youth.

He said the recently launched Third Botswana National Framework for HIV and AIDS revealed that new infections vary according to age groups.

Mr Matlhare said about 69 per cent of new HIV infections were among persons aged 15-34 years, with girls and women accounting for 75 per cent of new infections.

'As policy makers we do our best to design programmes that we hope will have high impact for our various demographic groups.

Uunfortunately it seems like we missed a point when it comes to the youth and young women,' said Mr Matlhare.

For this reason, he said NAHPA appreciated initiatives by Sentebale to highlight the importance of youth engagement. He said Ms Masisi was dedicated to mobilising young people, families and communities in which they live to create safe spaces for meaningful conversations that would empower the youth.

So far, he said the First Lady road shows campaigns in some parts of the Central District had been an enriching experience and the youth articulated key issues that contributed to their vulnerability towards HIV infections.

He said Botswana had demonstrated appreciation for Sentebale's efforts to target remote areas, hence NAHPA had supported 10 clubs and 10 caregiver groups during the 201/19 financial year. Further Mr Matlhare said NAHPA had offered additional resources to sustain the clubs.

He also stated that one of the concerns the youth raised was the weak parent-child relationships, particularly as they grow older.

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Publication:Botswana Daily News (Gaborone, Botswana)
Geographic Code:6BOTS
Date:Aug 15, 2019
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