Windhoek – The Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), Winnie Byanyima, recently visited beneficiaries of the U.S.-funded DREAMS project in Namibia. DREAMS stands for Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored and Safe and helps empower adolescent girls and young women and protect them from contracting HIV.
Together with U.S. Ambassador Lisa Johnson and the Executive Director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Ben Nangombe, the UNAIDS Executive Director met with DREAMS Girls and community care workers at a youth-friendly pre-fabricated health clinic at Windhoek’s Hakahana Clinic.
“I am very impressed by the confidence and optimism these young women express as a result of the support they receive through the DREAMS program,” said Ambassador Johnson.
Among other interventions, the project provides sexual and reproductive health services including Family Planning; preventing and responding to gender-based violence; economic strengthening including vocational training; and financial literacy.
DREAMS is funded by the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and implemented by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) together with partner organizations and works in close cooperation with several Namibian ministries. In Namibia, DREAMS started in 2017, and currently supports 36,000 adolescent girls and young women (AGYW), including more than 200 AGYW who have managed to establish their own small businesses through economic strengthening activities.
“Since the beginning of PEPFAR 16 years ago, the U.S. government has invested nearly US$1.6 billion in HIV programming in Namibia. For the coming year, we will increase our annual funding from US$89 million to US$91 million, and this year we doubled our investment in DREAMS to US$20 million,” highlighted U.S. Ambassador Johnson.
Due to its success, and in order to reach more vulnerable adolescent girls and young women, the program’s geographic scope has recently been expanded from five to nine Namibian districts, in five Regions.
PEPFAR is the largest commitment ever by a single nation toward an international health initiative – a comprehensive approach to combating HIV/AIDS around the world. In Namibia, PEPFAR is led by the U.S. Ambassador and programmed by an inter-agency management team chaired by the PEPFAR Coordinator that includes USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Peace Corps.
Speaker: Walter Parrs, U.S. Embassy Namibia spokesperson
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