Namibia To Launch Program That Will Address HIV/AIDS Among Workers at Sea
A program that will provide employees in Namibia who work at sea with information on HIV/AIDS and focus on antiretroviral treatment is in an advanced stage of development, the New Era/AllAfrica.com reports. According to the New Era/AllAfrica.com, the program is needed to address this group's vulnerability to HIV/AIDS because of a lack of information and to ensure that HIV-positive employees do not miss scheduled doses of antiretrovirals. Representatives from the Ministry of Health and Social Services, fishing companies and other HIV/AIDS service providers met last week to create a committee that will oversee the program's implementation.
According to assessments, the extended period of absence at sea can disrupt the antiretroviral regimens of employees living with HIV/AIDS because they often are unable to take the drugs at sea. Although the health ministry does make arrangements for HIV-positive employees to receive treatment, most employees are unaware of such arrangements, the New Era/AllAfrica.com reports.
Immanuel Mwilima of the Walvis Bay Multi-Purpose Centre Trust, which will lead the program, said the initiative could be effective in addressing the vulnerability of sea-going employees to HIV/AIDS. "Such a program will cater for the very basic needs in form of information and education for seafarers when it comes to HIV/AIDS," Mwilima said, adding, "These people are very vulnerable, as most information does not reach them due to their extended length of stay at sea."
Mwilima added that Namibia will pilot the program and that if successful, it could be rolled out to other countries. "We have very high expectations for this program and will do everything possible to make sure that it succeeds. If successful, Namibia could be used as a model for other countries facing the same scenario worldwide," Mwilima said (Tjatindi, New Era/AllAfrica.com, 8/21).