Namibia’s relatively small population of 2 million people has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates among pregnant women. Over the last 4 years, HIV prevalence rates within the general population have been estimated to be around 13.5%(1). Although the prevalence rate among pregnant women dropped from 22% in 2002 to 18.8% in 2010(2), the social and economic impacts of HIV and AIDS continue to be felt. The HIV and AIDS pandemic continues to pose a challenge due to its dynamic nature in the way it impacts on the Namibian population at large. By 2010, approximately 189,000 people were living with HIV. This number is predicted to increase to 201,000 in 2015/16. In 2010/11, approximately 9,300 people were newly infected with HIV with an estimated number of 25 new infections per day. Of the new infections in 2010, about 40 percent were among young people aged 15-24 and 68 percent of the new infections in this age group were among young women. The spread of HIV is further exacerbated by high unemployment rates, widespread poverty, prevalent sexual practices and high levels of violence against women and children. With about 2 to 3 babies being born HIV positive each day, HIV remains an important cause of infant and child mortality and reaching the virtual elimination target will require sustained efforts in promoting access to prevention commodities, treatment, care and support services.
Although Namibia has made remarkable progress in rolling out ART services to those in need, the number of people who need treatment continues to increase from 99,700 in 2010/11 to 158,000 by 2015/16 (High bound estimates). This includes 12,600 children under the age of 15 who are in need of treatment. It was further estimated that, 9,900 women were in need of PMTCT services in 2010/11 (High bound estimates). The number of orphans and other vulnerable children registered with the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare has increased to around 140,000. Ultimately, AIDS related illnesses remain the number 1 cause of death in Namibia. The epidemic has mainly affected the health, livelihoods and economic perspectives of many poor Namibians. To date, the country has a generalized mature epidemic, with HIV primarily transmitted through heterosexual sex.
HIV/AIDS Mainstreaming in the Public Sector
This project supported the goals and strategic plans of the national development plans which called for mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS in policies, plans and budgets. UNDP therefore supported the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to lead, oversee and coordinate mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS in OMAs.
Through technical support from UNDP local and regional offices, the OPM conducted an assessment study in 2008 on the impact of HIV and AIDS in the public sector. The study provided the data to visualise the problem, understand its characteristics, extend and magnitude, which enhanced evidence based planning in the public sector. Furthermore, through UNDP local and regional offices, the OPM benefited from various capacity-building, activities, including training on communication and training tools in mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS, transformation leadership and workplace conversations.