By Dominic Sikopo
Namibian Police in Katima Mulilo recently held a march which was done as part of commemorating Police Health Day for the first time in the country.
While in the town of Katima Mulilo the march started from Hospital road in the heart of Katima Mulilo town which led all the way to the Katima Mulilo Traffic Head Office where the event was officiated.
Speaking at the event was the Caprivi Regional Health Director Mr. Albeus Maswahu, who stated that Health and Social wellbeing are considered fundamental pre-requisites to socio-economic development, “A healthy police force will curb all forms of crime effectively and contribute to national development”, he said.
He went on explaining the general priorities for public health which were HIV/AIDS, STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections, Tuberculosis, Malaria ,Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health Adolescent Health Nutrition, Mental Health and Disability Life style diseases, Obesity Hypertension and diabetes mellitus including Outbreaks and Disasters Social welfare and General Health problems.
“We are gathered at this unique event to share important messages on all illnesses in general such as HIV/AIDS Counseling and Testing (HCT), Diabetes Mellitus in particular.”
The Health Director explained that prevention strategies such as Male Circumcision, HIV Counselling and Testing, Provision of ARVs, Treatment of STIs and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission which are aimed at reducing HIV prevalence are being implemented by MOHSS, “these intervention are available and can be accessed by our men and women in uniform”, he said.
Peer educators within NAMPOL are trained by society for Family Health(SFH) who do conduct outreach sessions to sensitize the members in uniform and create awareness “on the importance of knowing one`s status with a view to encourage those who test negative to take appropriate measures as we are aiming at “zero new HIV infections”, said Mr. Maswahu.
Caprivi Health Director explained that referrals are made for those that test positive to the Ministry of Health and Social Services health facilities to access necessary treatment, care and support services while at the same time being responsible enough not to deliberately spread the virus.
He added that “so far uniformed members have undergone Male circumcision after receiving information from MOHSS on male circumcision which is commendable indeed”.
He also revealed that during the 2012/13 financial year, Caprivi region managed to test 13,975 people for HIV, out of which 11701 tested negative and 2274(16.3%) tested positive and with that more females than males accessed counselling and testing services is a scenario that confirms that usual trend where more women than men access counselling and testing services in Namibia.
“Caprivi region still has the highest prevalence in the whole country which is estimated at 37.7% as quoted from the 2012 National HIV/AIDS Sentinel Surveillance,”.
He mentioned that the country`s prevalence rate stood at 18.8%, “this has a negative impact on the socio-economic welfare of our population and the productivity levels of our labour force(including our police force) as most hours of work are lost due to recurrent illnesses of skilled and experienced personnel of our workforce are being lost as a result of HIV and AIDS”But according to him, this should not be the case as all services are in place.
He also revealed that Tuberculosis have also been on the increase due to high HIV and AIDS prevalence, “HIV-TB co-infection is around 70%”. “The Ministry of Health and Social Services together with its partners in the fight against HIV AIDS, encourages each one of you to go for HIV counselling and testing as knowing one`s status enables the affected person to make informed and responsible choice, ”the Director explained.
Mr. Maswahu took the platform to advice those with high blood pressure and Diabetes Mellitus to take their treatment regularly as prescribed by their Doctors as the two diseases are controllable despite not being curable.
He cautioned that other non-communicable diseases that were on the increase were Cancer( of the Cervix, prostate gland and of the Breat), “Ladies are encouraged to have pap smears at least once a year and to examine their breasts regurlarly for lumps while in the supine position, our male counterparts above 40 years should also go for prostate examination as a means to detect abnormalities and the size of the prostate gland”.
He added that smoking must be discouraged to prevent chronic lung diseases and lung cancer, “all these has a negative impact on productivity and the rate of economic development because development depends on the most valuable resources which is the human capital”,
“Since our theme for this is a healthy police force against all Illnesses, I would like to appeal to all of you gathered to get counselled and tested for HIV, have your blood pressure, pap smear and sugar levels checked”, the Director also urged those who are on treatment to continue taking their treatment as prescribed.
“I am aware that there are churches that are giving our men and women wrong information of not taking their treatment because they are being prayed for, this is suicide”, he encouraged the people on treatment to continue with their treatment”.
He concluded by thanking all of the development partners who had been supporting them tirelessly in the fight against HIV/AIDS.