The U.S. embassy in Namibia has donated eight mobile clinics to Okongo District Hospital to support the continued decentralization of HIV care and increased access to anti-retroviral treatment for HIV-positive patients.
Okongo, the initiator of community-based anti-retroviral treatment, was extolled for its innovative strategy of providing quality care to its patients for the past 10 years.
Naemi Shoopala, maternal and child health specialist team leader in Oshakati, said the eight clinics are the first of 40 clinics to be delivered to district hospitals countrywide.
The clinics are said to be the first visible signs of the push to help Namibia reach an AIDS-free generation.
Previously, nurses involved in HIV/AIDS treatment operated from makeshift clinics in villages.
“Since the good people of Okongo were the first to develop a patient-centred approach to combat HIV, I thought it was fitting for you to be the first to see the United States recognize your commitment,” said Shoopala.
Shoopala said the embassy wants to ensure the commitment to combating HIV is rolled out to other district hospitals.
Shoopala was speaking on behalf of the U.S. ambassador Thomas Daughton at the handover of the clinics in Okongo on Wednesday.
Emilia Mwalungama, the chairperson of wOmwene kala pufye support group at Onghululu East in Okongo, applauded the U.S. embassy for the clinics and the Okongo district team for decentralizing the medicine collection points.
Mwalungama, who tested HIV positive in 2004, related that she used to spend about N$150 to access treatment at Eenhana District Hospital.
However the situation is said to have changed in 2006 when the ARVs could be collected at Okongo and later at receiving points in the villages.
Mwalungama said her viral load has declined from 218 in 2004 to below 40 in 2013.
“At present I have reached ‘target no detected’ stage, an indication that the decentralization has assisted us in taking our ARVs as prescribed,” said Mwalungama.
Shoopala said the U.S. government last month had yet again committed itself to fund another N$600 million in 2017 to support the Namibian government’s plan to fight HIV and AIDS.
An additional N$500 million will be topped up over the next two years.
The U.S. government has also further agreed to fund an additional 431 critical health care and support positions such as doctors, nurses, clinical mentors, pharmacists and counsellors.
Fourteen modular houses for health care workers and 18 vehicles will also be donated to reach more patients in the rural areas.
Since 2003, the American Embassy has pumped N$16 billion into the fight against HIV and AIDS.