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Deaf persons trained on HIV prevention

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The National Aids Coordinating Agency (NACA) has collaborated with Botswana Association of the Deaf (BOAD) to explore alternative ways to getting HIV/AIDS education to the deaf community in a way that accommodates their needs.

Nearly 400 000 people in Botswana live with HIV with an estimated prevalence rate of 22.8 percent. Prevention efforts that target HIV- related risk behaviours remain the most effective method of lowering incidence rates and the objective cannot be achieved without sufficient information reaching all members of the community. However, over the years not so much HIV prevention interventions have been made towards integrating deaf persons. With a variety of languages and communication styles employed among people who are deaf, it is important to understand which communication style would be most suitable to the targeted population.

BOAD hopes to develop effective HIV prevention intervention programmes to meet the urgent and unique needs of those who are deaf and hard of hearing. As is true of any culture there are features of deaf culture that can both challenge and support the implementation of HIV prevention interventions. Therefore, community based organisations and peer education of the deaf by the deaf are likely to be an advantageous avenue to use in the development and dissemination of HIV prevention interventions that target persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Deaf Federation of South Africa national director, Bruno Druchen who is consulting on this project shared that, amongst other things, the initiative aims to educate the deaf persons about HIV/AIDS as they have been missing on previous messages in the public domain because those campaigns were not designed to accommodate their needs. Druchen said that to date, all empirically validated HIV prevention interventions have relied on communication strategies designed for people who can hear and read spoken language. Therefore, understanding and developing effective prevention methods is crucial for persons who are deaf.

He explained that the main risk factor for HIV infection for deaf people is the lack of access to information. Deaf people, he said, face an information gap at the prevention stage in that one needs proper information in order to know how to avoid infection and deaf persons cannot understand the language used in the mainstream – mass information systems. He indicated that the limited knowledge of how HIV is transmitted may contribute to increased vulnerability to HIV infections among persons who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Selected deaf participants were pulled from different places across the country to be trained as trainers who will then go to their respective villages to educate other deaf community members on HIV/AIDS issues in conjunction with their district health teams.

Druchen indicated that the aim is to have peer-counselors by the deaf to the deaf, where a deaf person will communicate with another deaf person using the language that they both can understand and offer support to one another. Sign language interpreters were also trained on the code of ethics, the behaviour and professionalism of interpreters as these are the people that assist communication flow between the health service providers and the deaf persons. Druchen emphasised that interpreters should understand that their role is to relay the message and not to talk on behalf of the deaf person(s).

He stated that since confidentiality is a key issue in HIV prevention, some clinics and testing centres may not be equipped to deal with deaf persons and hard of hearing persons as they rarely have health care providers who are fluent in sign language and interpreting services are not easily available when needed. This may further marginalise deaf and hard of hearing persons and their access to education on HIV/AIDS, HIV testing and other health issues may be impeded, he warned.

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BMC secures beef market in Seychelles

Dikarabo Ramadubu

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Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) will soon start to sell its beef to the Island of Seychelles. Not only will they sell frozen raw meat, but will also send corned beef for trial in the Island.

All this is thanks to last week’s visit by President Mokgweetsi Masisi who included in his delegation executive management of the BMC, led by Chief Executive Officer, Dr Akolang Tombale.
The agreement signed between BMC and two leading Seychelles companies, will see BMC exporting at least 48 tonnes of raw beef to the island possibly from October. The names of the two companies that BMC signed an agreement with are Seychelles Trading Company which is a quasi-government organisation, and Rosebelle Company which is privately owned.

Although both have agreed to trade with each other, BMC cannot start immediately, as they have to wait for the green light from Seychelles companies who still have to apply for import permits in accordance with the law of their republic.

Speaking to The Midweek Sun, Tombale expressed gratitude that they managed to get good business in Seychelles through the assistance of President Masisi. “We are ready to export any time from now. As you know Seychelles is an island surrounded by mountains and cannot produce much if not anything. “They therefore depend much on imports even from as far as Brazil and Europe. Their economy is driven by tourism and they do not differ much with the European market in terms of the demand for beef as most tourists come from Europe and United States.”

Dr. Tombale said they agreed with the two companies that since “we are not sure about the logistics we will start by selling 24tonnes to each company per month, meaning we will be supplying the Island with a total of 48 tonnes per month. The idea is to start small and grow bigger as the people get used to our beef.” BMC has also negotiated to sell small stock meat to Seychelles and successfully negotiated for local chicken farmers to start selling their range chicken to Seychelles as well.

According to Tombale, he negotiated the deal after being approached by local chicken farmers amongst them Kgosi Mosadi Seboko of Balete, who requested that “we should try to find a market for chicken farmers as we go around the world searching for the beef market.” Tombale revealed that for a start both range chickens and small stock will not be supplied in tonnes or large quantities as they will be sold on a trial basis.

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G-west community reunion-walk a resounding success

Keletso Thobega

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Multitudes turned up for the Mosengwaketsi community walk and braai session this past Saturday in Gaborone West. The walk was held in the morning and was preceded by football games and a braai session that went on until late in the evening.

According to the event director Tshenolo Palai, the aim of the community day event was to revive community spirit and address crime and social ills. “The Mosengwaketsi community reunion will be held not only to create a platform to build unity but also address the social ill of passion killings,” he said.

Palai said that they had also invited health stakeholders for a wellness segment because they had realised that there are many health related conditions that affect the quality of people’s lives hence they had joined forces with religious organisations, the business community, neighbourhood outreach policing and other stakeholders in the area to encourage a culture of unity and create dialogue between all the parties.

He noted that they had wanted to create a relaxed environment conducive for different people to engage and strengthen their networks. He said they were also concerned with the high rate of crimes of passion in Botswana and also wanted to create a platform for both men and women to open up on issues that affect them because most people tend to be more relaxed in a social setting.

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