Success Depends on Focusing on Hope, Not Defeat

Cape Times (South Africa), October 31, 2006 | Go to article overview

Success Depends on Focusing on Hope, Not Defeat


This is an edited version of the speech by deputy health minister Nozizwe Madlala-RoutledGe at an HIV/Aids conference in Randburg on Friday.

It has been a bumpy road from Durban to Bangkok, to New York and Toronto. Having reviewed our common commitment to helping our people conquer HIV, we can now march together and not against each other.

Our country is in pain. Tremendous efforts are being made and resources invested in combating HIV and Aids by government and civil society, but we continue to see unacceptably high levels of new infections and deaths from Aids-defining illnesses.

We are losing our children and youth, our future. We are losing mothers and fathers and seeing an ever-growing number of orphans and child-headed families. We are losing teachers and health care workers and we are losing the life-blood of our economy, the workers.

In South Africa, the population is estimated at 46 million. The national HIV prevalence among pregnant women is 30.2%, according to the 2005 Ante-Natal Care (ANC) Report and 18% in the general population.

The report further indicates youth HIV prevalence (15+ years) is estimated at 16.2%. The estimated number of people living with HIV and Aids is 5.5 million. South Africa's adult death rate has risen by 62% in the five years between 1997 and 2002.

The 2005/06 Medical Research Council estimates that, every day in South Africa, about 900 people die and there are 1 000 new infections.

However, with the adoption of the Operational Plan on HIV/Aids Care, Management and Treatment in November 2003 and the new efforts being put into streamlining our communication messages on HIV, there is new hope in this country. Our people now have the opportunity to come forward and test for HIV, so that they know their status.

With more and more sites being accredited for the roll-out of treatment, care and management of HIV and Aids, more and more people have an opportunity to get free, life-saving treatment. Now is the time for unity and dialogue on HIV and Aids in particular, and health care delivery as a whole. Now is the time for all of us to provide decisive leadership in every way we can.

The five-year strategic plan for HIV/Aids launched by the government in 2000 identified four key areas of intervention: prevention; treatment, care and support; research, monitoring and surveillance; and legal and human rights.

In April 2002, cabinet decided on a number of measures to strengthen and reinforce these efforts, including strengthening partnerships, especially via the South African National Aids Council (Sanac); continued use of nevirapine in preventing mother-to-child transmission; and development of a universal incremental expansion plan.

In 2003, the South African Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and Aids Care, Management and Treatment was launched. Its main pillars were to provide comprehensive care and treatment for people living with HIV and Aids, including the free provision of ARVs in the public health sector and to strengthen the national health system in South Africa.

I want to acknowledge the tremendous work that was put in by various groups and individuals in developing the national framework, strategy and the comprehensive operational plan. It has been a national effort. I also want to acknowledge and appreciate the work being done by our front-line health professionals, who are working under great strain.

I want to appreciate the volunteers and home-based care workers who care on an ongoing personal basis for so many of those infected with HIV and Aids, including family members.

I also appreciate 16 NGOs and various sectors' print and audio- visual mass media, which continue to do sterling work in prevention and treatment literacy and support for people living with HIV.

I salute organisations representing people living with HIV and Aids for helping government to successfully wage a campaign against pharmaceutical companies, the aim of which was to reduce the cost of anti-retroviral drugs. …

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Success Depends on Focusing on Hope, Not Defeat
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