In 2014, the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) introduced the 90-90-90 goals to eliminate the AIDS epidemic. Namibia was the first African country to meet these goals.


To construct a comparative historical narrative of international and government responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the two countries, to identify enabling and non-enabling factors key to mitigate the HIV/AIDS pandemic.


We conducted a desk review of public documents, peer-reviewed articles, and media reports to evaluate actions taken by Namibia and Ghana’s governments, donors, and the public and compared disease prevalence and expenditure from all sources.


Namibia’s progress is due to several factors: the initial shocking escalation of infection rates, seen by donors as a priority; the generalizability of the epidemic generated, which resulted in overwhelming public support for HIV/AIDS programs; and a strong health system with substantial donor investment, allowing for aggressive and early ramp up of ART. Modest donor support relative to the magnitude of the epidemic, a weak health care system, and widespread household cost-sharing are among the factors that diminished support for universal access to HIV treatment in Ghana.


Four factors played a key role in Namibia’s success: the nature of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the government and international community's response to the epidemic, health system characteristics, and financing of HIV/AIDS services. Strengthening the health systems to support HIV/AIDS testing and care services, ensuring sustainable ART funding, empowering women, and investing in an efficient surveillance system to generate local data on HIV prevalence would assist in developing targeted programs and allocate resources to where they are needed most.

Keywords: HIV/AIDS, Donor, Out-of-pocket, Health care, UNAIDS, ART funding.
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