Educating Southern African Parliamentarians about HIV/AIDS

The Conference on AIDS Action and Botswana: Lessons in Capacity Building and Importance of Research took place in Gaborone, Botswana in late January.
Under the auspices of The Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC) and the Botswana-Harvard Partnership, in collaboration with the National Assembly of Botswana, the conference was attended by delegates from the 14 SADC countries.

The conference focused on basic scientific information on HIV/AIDS with a view towards facilitating policy formulation, development and implementation of programs for HIV/AIDS. Sessions covered the benefits and challenges of research performed in southern Africa, the ability of research to build scientific and medical capacity, and suggestions of how to better coordinate responses for combating HIV/AIDS in SADC countries.

Politicians networked with scientists and clinicians. Members of Parliament, influential leaders, and high-ranking government officials were provided with the knowledge and tools necessary to support and implement successful national HIV/AIDS research programs. The conference detailed the latest HIV/AIDS research results and emphasized the need for countries to participate in local HIV/AIDS research for their own benefit.

Delegates appreciated the opportunity provided by the Botswana-Harvard HIV Reference Laboratory to share experiences, expertise, and best practices within southern Africa. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided major funding for the conference.