Namibia's Education Ministry Launches HIV/AIDS Booster Packs for Teachers, Staff

Namibia's Ministry of Education has made immune system booster packs part of its efforts to mitigate the effects of HIV/AIDS on the education sector in the country, the Namibian/ reports. The packs aim to ensure that teachers and other education ministry employees who are living with HIV have strong immune systems, enabling antiretroviral therapy to be more effective. The packs -- which include supplements that provide 100% of the recommended daily intake of various nutrients, vitamins and minerals -- also aim to reduce absenteeism among teachers. According to the Namibian/, the education ministry employs more than 40,000 people.

At the launch of the booster pack program, Prime Minister Nahas Angula said that AIDS-related deaths among teachers and education ministry staff are hindering the ministry's efforts. "We all know that education can be a powerful force -- perhaps the most powerful force of all in combating the spread of HIV and AIDS," Angula said, adding, "But just as education can contribute to weakening the grip of HIV and AIDS, so also the epidemic can weaken an education system's ability to function." The Namibian/ reports that the teenage pregnancy rate among secondary school graduates in Namibia is 5%, compared with 45% among girls with pre-primary or no education. In addition, 8% of girls with incomplete primary education report sex with a man who is 10 or more years older, compared with 3% of girls with complete secondary education (Shejavali, Namibian/, 12/8).

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