Botswana President Mogae Says AIDS-Related Deaths Decreasing, Challenges Still Ahead in State of Nation Address
Botswana President Festus Mogae on Monday during his State of the Nation address to Parliament said while AIDS-related deaths have decreased in the country, huge challenges still lay ahead, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News, 11/6). According to UNAIDS, about 270,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in Botswana, and 85% of people in need of treatment receive drugs at no cost from the government. The country hopes to halt all new HIV cases by 2016 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/23).
Botswana has "made progress in reducing mother-to-child transmission from 40% to 6%," Mogae said, adding that the "number of home-based care patients also reduced from 12,000 to 4,000, with more than 98% of pregnant women tested for HIV, and treating over 9,000 people out of the estimated 100,000 people."
Mogae, who is to stand down next March, also acknowledged that the country still faces challenges, such as maintaining a balanced budget. He added that "hars[h] punishment awaits a nation that spends unwisely in pursuit of immediate gratification, rather than sustainable development."
"Whatever our challenges, and we have many, [Botswana] is a land of hope and promise," Mogae said, adding, "We can say with pride and confidence that our country is today a vibrant, competitive nation of opportunity" (AFP/Yahoo! News, 11/6).