9 October 2002
Statement on 4th anniversary of Partnership Against Aids
On the fourth anniversary of the Partnership Against AIDS, government reaffirms its commitment to intensifying its comprehensive programme to fight HIV/AIDS in partnership with all sectors of society.
Cabinet today received a report on what has been done since 17 April 2002 when government launched the Campaign of Hope, calling on all sectors of society to join hands in the campaign to prevent HIV infection and to deal with its consequences. Cabinet appreciated the progress being made in implementing the strategy and the events taking place to celebrate the partnership.
Since there is no known cure for AIDS, progress in prevention is critical.
- A new phase of the awareness campaign, with R98 million government funding, was launched in September, with partners such as loveLife.
- This year 350 million condoms will be supplied free including through such non-traditional outlets as clubs, shebeens and spaza shops.
- The South African AIDS Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) is busy with laboratory testing of candidate vaccines and clinical trials could start in late 2003.
Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT)
The PTMCT programme continues.
- By June over 101 000 women had visited facilities attached to the 18 research sites - 63 000 accepted voluntary counseling and testing. Nevirapine was dispensed to 10 043 women and 6 947 babies.
- Training in the Universal Roll-Out plan has started in all provinces. Health facilities for testing are being upgraded. Funds will be availed for the roll-out
- After the Constitutional Court judgment all provinces received guidelines for implementation of the PMTCT package and will expand services according to their differing capacities. Already KwaZulu/Natal, Gauteng, Northwest and Western Cape have extended coverage to a significant number of their health institutions and other provinces are following suit.
Support for survivors of sexual assault
Government decided in April to provide a comprehensive package of support for survivors of sexual assault.
- Protocols were distributed to provinces by May and implementation has started. Health institutions, police, social workers and NGO's are working together. Additional funding is being provided.
Treatment for opportunistic infection
The quality of life of those infected with HIV is a major concern to government.
- Treatment for opportunistic infections is available at public health care facilities irrespective of HIV status. As part of the Diflucan Partnership Programme about 1 million tablets of Diflucan were processed by July 2002. Diflucan is provided free in over 300 public facilities. Some 7 800 health workers been trained as part of the programme. Treatment for TB is free and available in the public health sector.
- Protecting and strengthening the immune system helps ward off infections. Government's poverty alleviation programme and nutritional interventions help fight HIV/AIDS. Government also encourages investigation into complementary treatments for boosting the immune system. A protocol for research into such treatments has been drafted for submission to the Medicines Control Council.
Anti-retroviral treatments can help improve the condition of people living with AIDS if administered at certain stages in the progression of the condition, and in accordance with international standards.
Government is actively engaged in addressing the challenges that must be overcome to create the conditions that would make it feasible and effective to use antiretrovirals in the public health sector. We are therefore working to lower the cost of these drugs, at present too costly for universal access, and to strengthen the health system and intensify patient education to ensure that the drugs are not used incorrectly in ways that can cause harm.
What this means in practice
- A technical task team of Treasury and the Department of Health is working on these and other cost implications of an expanded response to the impact of HIV/AIDS on all sectors of society.
- In collaboration with academic institutions and others government is running programmes to train for better HIV/AIDS care, helping address the fact that out of 27 000 registered medical practitioners only 2,000 have such training.
- Work is to start soon to establish public sector Centres of Excellence for HIV/AIDS care in all provinces - to ensure development of curricula on HIV/AIDS and TB care; dissemination of guidelines; and adequate skills in health workers to provide care and support.
- To get better information on antiretroviral treatment government is to urgently investigate experience of HIV/AIDS treatment in the health private sector. Consideration is being given to some submissions from provinces to the Global Fund through SANAC for operational research within the public sector in the medium term on the practical impact of antiretroviral treatment.
- As part of the work for more affordable drugs regulations to facilitate import and manufacture of cheap and generic drugs, dawn up in consultation with pharmaceutical companies, are to be introduced after some technical amendments to the law. There is a NEPAD programme for a number of African countries to work urgently with pharmaceutical companies towards manufacturing affordable drugs for diseases including TB and HIV/AIDS.
Strengthening the Partnership Against AIDS
- New sectors are being constantly drawn into the partnership:
- The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) decided in October to enhance its capacity lead the fight against HIV/AIDS by streamlining its operations, strengthening its secretariat and broadening non-governmental representation on the council.
Care and Support
- The Departments of Health, Social Development and Education are working together to enhance support for families affected by the epidemic. From November provincial co-ordinators in the programme will receive care kits to be used by nurses and lay counsellors.
- A National Policy on Testing for HIV is to be incorporated into the National Health Act to be tabled in Parliament this yea
- Work is being done on a plane for national education on legal and human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS
Issued by: Government Communications (GCIS)