The Namibian government’s commitment to improving public health efforts in the last 33 years has yielded positive outcomes resulting in an increase in the country’s life expectancy by 12 years since 2001.
In 2001, the average lifespan of a Namibia was 51 years but in 2020 this increased to 63 years. Furthermore, investment in HIV pandemic control has also paid off significantly with a 65 percent decline in new infections. HIV-related deaths in Namibia also declined by 74 percent since 2004.
“Namibia is one of the first high-burden countries to approach epidemic control as per the UNAIDS 95-95-95 treatment cascade with 92 percent of people living with HIV aware of their status, 99 percent of them being on HIV treatment and 94 percent of those on HIV treatment being virally suppressed,” noted Dr Mary Brantuo, the WHO Namibia Officer in Charge.
Dr Brantuo spoke at the opening ceremony of the MODEL United Nations High School conference on 1 November, where she highlighted achievements in Namibia’s public health space.
WHO Namibia, the United Nations Information Center (UNIC), and the British High Commission in Namibia hosted the 11th MODEL UN conference in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture.
Dr Brantuo said, WHO is proud “to be associated with the hard-won gains in public health” since the country’s independence.
Additionally, Dr Brantuo also noted that the national coverage of immunization for most childhood vaccine preventable diseases is above the global recommended rates ensuring increased child survival.
“Namibia has maintained its polio-free status since October 2008,” added Dr Brantuo. She addressed learners who were participating in the 11th annual MODEL United Nations High School conference that took place at the United Nations (UN) House in Windhoek on the 1st and 2nd of November 2023.
MODEL United Nations is a dynamic simulation of UN bodies that enable young people to take on the role of diplomats representing different countries. As a result, the learners gain first-hand experience in international relations and diplomacy.
This year’s theme was “The rising burden of chronic diseases and pandemics poses a challenge for public health systems and requires innovative approaches to improve population health, A new wave in public health”.
The conference convened 100 learners from different high schools in Windhoek and the Osire Secondary School. The learners debated, lobbied, presented position papers and passed resolutions during the two-day meeting.
Mr. Mzingisi Gqwede, the Director of Adult Education in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture stressed the importance of education and innovation in addressing the challenges of chronic diseases and pandemics.
“You can make important contributions right at home in your own communities,” Anthea Basson, the Head of UNIC told the participants during the MUN NAM opening ceremony. She also told participants that their actions do not have to be at the global level to make a difference.
“MODEL UN has impacted learners positively,” commented Mr Edward Shati, a teacher at Hage Geingob High School, one of the participating schools at this year’s conference. Shati said Hage Geingob High School has had learners participate at the MODEL UN Conferences since 2017. Shati added that the conference has boosted the confidence of learners as a result of participating in MODEL UN conferences.
Jayden Kambinda, a Grade 10 learner at Windhoek International School agrees that learners who participate in MODEL UN acquire new skills including negotiating, empathy, writing and public speaking skills.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO) – Namibia.