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Botswana Launches Mobile Clinics for HIV Testing

Botswana on Thursday launched community clinics on wheels that are expected to provide critical integrated health services, especially HIV testing.

The four mobile clinics will enable implementing partners to provide a range of integrated health care services, including HIV testing, pre-exposure prophylaxis for HIV prevention, antiretroviral treatment, viral load testing, tuberculosis screening and prevention, gender-based violence screening, post-violence clinical services, sexually transmitted infection screening and treatment, and non-communicable disease screening and treatment.

Speaking at the launching ceremony in the capital of Gaborone, Minister of Health Edwin Dikoloti said the launch comes at a time when the government has made tremendous progress in fighting the HIV/AIDS epidemic by being one of the few countries to exceed the UNAIDS 2030 target of 95-95-95 ahead of time.

95-95-95 means that 95 percent of the people who are living with HIV know their HIV status, 95 percent of the people who know that they are living with HIV are on life-saving antiretroviral treatment, and 95 percent of people who are on treatment are virally suppressed.

“We are inching closer to ending HIV as a public health threat by 2030, as evidenced by our current achievement of 95-98-98,” Dikoloti said.

Despite the achievements, Dikoloti highlighted that everyone must work together to guarantee that no one falls behind, especially the remaining 5-2-2 populations.

Vulnerable and frequently silent groups are difficult to locate and may be unaware of their need for care, especially if they do not regard their health as a top concern, said Dikoloti.” These target populations will unlikely access care at conventional health facilities despite their availability and thus may unintentionally be a catalyst for re-fuelling the epidemic and reversing our historic gains.”

According to the 2021 Botswana AIDS Impact Survey 5 (BAIS V), affected populations are likely to be young men and women, adolescents, elders, and members of key populations. These populations are not only in rural, difficult-to-reach geographies, but are also embedded in day-to-day life in cities, Dikoloti added.

The mobile clinics will be deployed in Gaborone, Francistown, Ngamiland and Kweneng East. Clients will be able to access health services at their convenience and at any time outside of health facilities, which will lower the client burden on health facilities, cut waiting times for patients, and improve the overall quality of health care supply.

Source: Xinhua