James Masango MPL
Spokesperson for health
The following address was delivered during the Snap Debate on World Aids Day in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature.
South Africa has made remarkable strides in the battle against the HIV/AIDS pandemic. And without any doubt, these gains and improvements can be attributed to the work and commitment of the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi – and his sterling efforts must be commended.
In the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)’s 2012 World AIDS Day report released this month, South Africa was rightly commended for the gains we made in the battle against the pandemic. These positive developments included the following:
• A 41% reduction in the rate of new HIV infections, which fell by more than 50 000 in the last two years;
• Broadening HIV anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment coverage by 75% in the last two years – providing 1,7 million people with lifesaving treatment;
• Reducing the number of children infected with HIV by at least 40%; and
• Reducing the number of AIDS related deaths by 100 000 in 2011 as compared to 2005.
South Africa can do more than this in the fight against HIV/AIDS if each and every MEC for Health in South Africa is as committed as minister Motsoaledi. We can do more if all provinces take the battle against HIV/AIDS seriously.
Most importantly, we can do more if all community members also take it as seriously. Government alone cannot win the battle against HIV/AIDS, but people also have to take responsibility for their own lives and actions.
The Mpumalanga Department of Health has failed to spend its Comprehensive HIV/AIDS Grant by R41,8 million. This is a serious concern as it is now the second consecutive year where this department has failed to spend the funds allocated to counter this pandemic.
Mpumalanga’s HIV Prevalence rate increased from 34,7% in 2009 to 35,1% in 2010, and is a direct result of the MEC and his department not being committed in the fight against HIV/AIDS. There are continuous interruptions with ARV drug supplies as well as the LAY counsellors receive their monthly stipend once every three to six months.
We can all make a contribution in the fight against HIV/AIDS. It is a battle we can only win by fighting together.