9 October 2014
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen
Thank you for joining us this morning for the Social Protection, Community and Human Development Cluster media briefing. Today we are outlining progress relating to the implementation of the key priorities as announced by President Jacob Zuma during the State of the Nation Address in June this year.
We will highlight the Cluster’s achievements with respect to the following outcomes:
• Outcome 1: Quality of basic education
• Outcome 2: A long and healthy life for all South Africans
• Outcome 5: A skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path
• Outcome 7: Vibrant, equitable, sustainable rural communities contributing towards food security for all
• Outcome 8: Sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life
• Outcome 10: Protect and enhance our environmental assets and natural resources
• Outcome 13: A comprehensive, responsive and sustainable social protection system
• Outcome 14: A diverse and socially cohesive society with a common national identity.
The Cluster is today reporting on the first quarter of the new administration giving highlights of the achievements of the fifth democratic government:
School Governing Body (SGB) elections are the largest in the country taking place in over 25 000 polling stations (schools) with over 250 000 governors elected every three years to serve in our public schools. Preparations for these elections are already at an advanced stage. For the first time, the provinces are ahead with preparations with five month left to the elections taking place from 6 to 28 March 2015. This demonstrates the maturing of the sector in applying business processes. Government encourages all parents to support the SGB elections by standing as candidates or by participating as voters because without parental and community support, education can never be a societal issue as envisaged by government.
South Africa is on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of Literacy and Early Childhood Development (ECD). This includes achieving universal primary education with a focus on both access and completion of primary education as well as gender. Furthermore, there is near universal participation in one year of pre-school, reported at 84.6% in the 2012 General Household Survey. The publicly funded Grade R is a significant contributor to the high rate of early childhood participation.
We are also pleased to report that extensive programmes were implemented to improve access to learning and teaching support materials with over 150 million textbooks and workbooks now in the hands of learners.
Interventions to mitigate inequities in access to education include the National School Nutrition Programme that now caters for around 9.2 million school-going children. In addition, scholar transport and no fee schooling is provided to 78% of learners (over eight million learners) in about 81% of public schools (over 20 000 schools) which do not charge fees.
The Funza Lushaka graduates allocations to provinces and districts for 2015 have been sent to provinces for proactive placements. About 75% of teachers have been profiled in terms of their professional information, subjects taught and subjects qualified to teach.
Teacher resource centres are being revitalised with technology resourcing and digital material to provide district-level support for teachers. Forty (40) teacher resource centres were activated nationally and 168 staff of such centres trained in a five day training programme during the first three months of this administration.
An international comparative study is currently under way focusing on countries offering History as a compulsory subject and the requirements for provision.
The pilot project on Incremental Introduction of African Languages is being implemented in 228 schools in all provinces except the Free State, with plans to roll-out to 3738 schools in Grade 1 in 2015.
Collaboration in the cluster and with sector partners resulted in commitments to fund resourcing for school libraries. A Book Flood campaign was launched on Mandela Day to enhance the culture of reading by putting a book in every child’s hand. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) in collaboration with the Vodacom Foundation has set up an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre in one targeted district in every province. The ICT centre is equipped with a computer room and also has thirty (30) laptops loaded with curriculum contention, and a mobile trolley which can be moved to training venues. Some100 000 books were donated to 800 schools through the National Education Collaboration Trust initiative.The DBE has put in place a strategy to advance reading across the curriculum in all subjects and grades.
The DBE is working on improving participation, performance in Mathematics, Science and Technology. For instance, interventions for improving Grade 9 Mathematics are being implemented at provinces, monitoring by the DBE – using information from disappointing Annual National Assessment (ANA) performance in the last two years.
Matric recovery interventions (including supplementary and alternative sitting of examinations) have been strengthened to include separate intensive arrangements thereby minimising disruption to schooling in the Northern Cape by parents fighting for roads in the province.
The DBE provided all provinces with the 2014 Educational Digital content which includes Grade 4 – 6 Natural Science and Technology (CAPS), Grade 7 – 9 Mathematics and Technology (CAPS), Grade 7 – 9 Natural Science (CAPS) and Grade 10 – 12 Mathematics, physical Science (CAPS). It has further facilitated the connectivity of 15 schools, including 10 schools from Mpumalanga-Balfour and five schools from Limpopo (TV Whitespace project) and a list of about 400 special schools has been submitted to the Communications Authority of South Africa to be considered for connectivity under the licence obligation project.
Thutong Portal: A new learning space has been created on the portal, which is accessible from the DBE’s website, for Home Based Education. As agreed in the national strategic framework for professional development we have launched an ICT platform USUFUNDA through which 8 000 devices can link to information, books, data on learner well-being, analyses and exemplars of ANA , past paper, maths quizzes, and assessment tasks. The platform creates a virtual school which you can carry in your pocket.
About 12 school structures were completed to replace inappropriate structures, 33 schools provide with sanitation and 22schools provided with electrification.These are schools that had no form of sanitation or electrification.
The Kha Ri Gude (KRG) Mass Literacy Campaign which caters for adult literacy learners has been very successful and the country is well on the way to achieving global literacy targets. Some 800 ECD volunteers have been training on 0-4 year stimulation. Certificates issued to blind and deaf volunteers that received the training, during the disability sector training session held from 4-6 July 2014.Registration of the 619 000 learners is in progress. Classes for the learners with disabilities started on 1 August 2014. Classes for the able-bodied group began on 1 September 2014.
ARTS AND CULTURE
As part of heritage promotion and preservation programmes, more than 5 000 schools now have South African flags. Further booklets and posters on South African national symbols and orders have been produced and disseminated to schools, including the Passport of Patriotism. This booklet was launched on Heritage Day in Orkney, North West.
The department has set up an interim committee for the SA Creative Industries Federation and provided a R5-million grant to help the sector get organised. The sector faces various challenges and needs help dealing effectively with them. These include funding, piracy, exploitation, lack of social security and lack of recognition as workers.
This Liberation Heritage Route identifies and develops precincts on the sites of historical and heritage significance. It reflects the supreme sacrifice for the freedom of South Africans. It is about the recognition of people, communities, events, places, icons and recording of epoch-making stories which had a significant impact on the South African struggle for liberation.
As part of restoring the dignity of our people and telling the South African Story, the remains of esteemed author and intellectual, Nat Nakasa, were repatriated to South Africa from New York and was reburied in Heroes Acre in Chesterville, Durban on 13 September 2014. There were also debate competitions for high schools students and essay competitions involving students at tertiary institutions to pay tribute to and popularise the legacy of Nat Nakasa.
Negotiations have already begun on the repatriation of South African leaders Moses Kotane and JB Marks from Russia to be reburied in Rustenburg and Ventersdorp in December this year.
In order to nurture nation-building and a more united people, the launch of the Social Cohesion Community Conversations was held at Bram Fischer Hall, Nelson Mandela Drive, Bloemfontein on 5 September 2014. Since then more than 10 Community Conversations have been conducted in various parts of the country focusing on Social Cohesion. A further 20 conversations will be held before the end of the year.
National Youth Day was held in Kimberley this year, in the Northern Cape in partnership with the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA). Youth were exposed to dialogues and conversations about the economic empowerment of youth. The Nelson Mandela Day took place at three main sites: Mvezo, Qunu and Mahikeng; with supporting activities implemented countrywide. Many people participated in donating 67 minutes of their time to serve communities and making a difference in people’s lives. The Women’s day event took place at King Zwelithini Stadium in Umlazi in conjunction with the Ministry of Women. The Heritage Day National Event took place at the James Motlatsi Stadium, Orkney, North West Province. Highlights of this event included a cultural parade consisting of performance groups dressed in traditional dress.
The Department of Arts and Culture (DAC) has been promoting National Book Week annually since 2010 in the first week of September. Literacy underpins development in various aspects of life and a heightened culture of reading is a fundamental ingredient in the creation of a prosperous society. The importance of books as sources of knowledge and information makes reading a vital ingredient in the development of a progressive society. The theme for this year’s National Book Week, “Going Places”, resonates with the national imperatives of taking South Africa forward. In pursuit of a culture of reading and writing, four libraries have been opened (Eastern Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga) and four more are being built in different provinces. Next week a library will be launched in Shiluvane, Mopani in Limpopo.
The Launch of the African Cultural Renaissance Charter took place on 2 and 3 October. South Africa is one of the nine African countries this far to ratify the Charter. The African Union (AU) is encouraging the entire continent to do so and work towards Agenda 2063, The Agenda consists of 7 Aspirations that speak about the Africa we want and have to work towards. The DAC has announced that the entire May 2015 will celebrate Africa through music, dance, literature, conferences, debates, visual arts, crafts and exhibitions and be a festival of ideas.
The 11th Annual Oral History Conference organised by the Oral History Association of South Africa in collaboration with the DAC (National Archives of South Africa) and hosted by Gauteng’s Department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation (Provincial Archives), will take place at Cedar Park Conference Centre in Woodmead from the 14 – 17 October 2014. The theme for this year’s conference is, Celebrating 20 years of democracy: “Oral History and the Politics of Transformation”. Learners will also participate in this.
The DAC is working towards the launch of the Mzansi Golden Market (Sourcing Enterprise) and we have initiated the Art Bank pilot project. Plans are advanced for the piloting of arts and cultural incubators and hubs. The DAC, as part of its support for national festivals, is supporting Macufe currently underway in Bloemfontein and in particular promoting a Public Visual Arts Programme throughout this festival.
A Central East Rand Male Choir known as Cenestra will be performing at the Royal Albert Hall Male Choir Festival in London in a few days’ time. It is the first African male choir to participate in this festival. This group is a beneficiary of the DAC’s Mzansi Golden Economy funding.
HIGHER EDUCATION AND TRAINING
One of the top priorities of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) is the strengthening of transformation in the Post-School Education and Training System (PSET), focusing on: Race; Class; Disability; Gender; HIV and AIDS; Age; Geography and Citizenship.
The Department has received inputs from various organisations and individuals in response to its Draft Policy Framework on Social Inclusion, which was gazetted on 21 August 2014. The framework maintains that the educational system should adequately respond to the National Development Plan, the Human Resource Development Strategy, the National Skills Development Strategy and the Industrial Policy of government. It recognises the complex and dynamic challenges facing the PSET and young South Africans and recommends well-planned career guidance intervention strategies and appropriate resources for institutions of learning to reduce student dropout, lack of skills and general alienation. It further calls for the strengthening of Disability Units, the development of institutional disability policies and functional Transformation Offices. The Department will work closely with institutions in ensuring that all forms of discrimination are eradicated in our public educational institutions.
The rollout of construction for the new universities – University of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatje University in the Northern Cape - must be seen in the context of a range of initiatives to expand the university system in South Africa in order to accommodate greater numbers of qualifying school leavers. Over the past 20 years university enrolment has almost doubled from 495 356 in 1994 to 953 373 in 2012. Enrolments are expected to grow to approximately 1.1 million in 2019 and 1.6 million students by 2030 as envisaged in the White Paper for Post-School Education and Training. It is critically important that this expansion be supported by quality infrastructure. A total construction value of R28.8m was recorded and 457 jobs were created. Work is continuing at both universities on the renovation and upgrading of existing facilities to accommodate planned enrolment for the 2015 academic year. The project has now reached an exciting milestone, with the appointment of contractors to commence with the building of new infrastructure for the 2016 academic year onwards.
In March 2014, the Department launched the Decade of the Artisan, under the theme: It is cool to be an Artisan. As part of this programme’s implementation plan, the Department immediately started hosting provincial outreach activities. The last provincial event was held in Mpumalanga on 8 August 2014. Employers from both the private and public sectors were encouraged to open workplaces for artisan students to obtain practical training.
The Department places great emphasis on linking education and the workplace and has a dedicated Work Integrated Learning and Partnerships unit, which directly deals with the placement of graduates and continuously updates a database of all graduates who need to be placed. A Work-Integrated Learning framework to enhance the employability of Technical and Vocational Education and Training College graduates has been recently finalized to provide a standardised approach and to support colleges in finding suitable workplaces to provide experiential learning to college graduates.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
The cluster, through the Departments of Sport and Recreation; and Arts and Culture drives a campaign to promote social cohesion; nation building and patriotism under the campaign called UNITE. Through the power of sport and arts & culture to promote these ideals that underpin the kind of society we seek to create in South Africa.
With regard to sport and recreation promotion campaigns, 289 People participated in a Move for Health event hosted in Hammanskraal. 793 People were reached in Ministerial Outreach Programmes that were conducted in De Doorn, Gugulethu, and New Eersterus. 20 Schools were provided with sports equipment and apparel.
The department hosted EKhaya at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. The fundamental purpose of Ekhaya was to provide support to Team South Africa when they participate in various sporting events. The activities at Ekhaya included daily exhibitions, a film festival, a lunch music programme and nightly evening concerts, networking/ lobbying sessions, medal celebrations, meeting venues. During the same time approximately 6 000 people visited Ekhaya to participate in the various activities.
Ministerial Outstanding Sports Performance Accolades Programme was implemented to promote social cohesion, by giving exposure and recognition to outstanding performances by athletes in international competitions. Mr Zolani Tete was recognized for having had his fight declared “Fight of the Year” by the IBF. Mr Tete had successfully defended his title. The 75 medalists returning from the African Youth Championships held in Botswana, and those returning from the 81 Commonwealth Games were honoured by the Minister and received financial incentives that differed according to whether their medal was Gold, Silver or a Bronze.
The department supports 40 Athletes who are currently on the Ministerial Sports Bursary Programme and a further 15 are now supported.
Netball SA staged the first Netball Premier League Games from 10th May to 8th June at the Sports Indoor Center of the University of Pretoria. The Department of Sport sna Recreation assisted Basketball SA with the establishment of the professional basketball league, the Basketball National League (BNL), which was held at the Wembley Arena from the 13 June – 30 August 2014.
The Department also hosted a successful Honouring of Women in Sport Gala event on the 29 August 2014 to celebration the contribution of women in various sectors of Sport.
The Department of Human Settlements will host a National Indaba of all stakeholders at the Sandton Convention Centre from 16-17 October 2014 with the aim to review progress in the implementation of Breaking New Ground as well as commit stakeholders to a social contract towards the 1,5 million housing opportunities by 2019.
The Department has acknowledged the challenge of a growing number of beneficiaries of state-subisidised housing who do not have title deeds. Research shows that over a million beneficiaries do not have title deeds and the Department of Human Settlements is committed to address this challenge. The Estate Agency Affairs Board (EAAB) has been tasked with a responsibility of framing a strategy that will ensure the transfer of deeds in a realistic and systematic way. The EAAB will initiate a more rigorous and independent audits by provinces of both pre-and-post 1994 outstanding transfers. This exercise of transferring title deeds to beneficiaries of state-subsidised housing has to be completed by 2019.
Programme management and operational support arrangements have been agreed and are being put in place at the National and Provincial level for the Human Settlements component of the National Mining Towns Intervention. Eighty two (82) informal settlements are being assessed and categorised for upgrading as part of the National Upgrading Support Programme in the priority mining towns. A total of sixty two (62) human settlement projects are at various stages of development in the priority mining towns, twenty (20) of these projects are informal settlement upgrading.
Provinces and municipalities have submitted approximately 120 potential projects that are being considered and assessed for the catalytic projects (projects that deliver over 10 000 houses) programme. Assessment criteria have been developed for the assessment of these projects against the principles and requirements of the Master Spatial Plan to ensure “impact” and “integration” outcomes from the projects. The mobilisation of Private sector involvement in this programme is also underway.
The Housing Development Agency has been appointed to develop a Human Settlements Master Spatial Plan for the Department of Human Settlements. The intention of this plan is to direct and focus government resources and private sector investment in human settlements to overcome the legacy of apartheid spatial planning. This will pave the way for integrated communities through projects that would connect people to work and economic opportunities. The Master Special Plan draft has been consulted broadly within provinces, municipalities and various sector role players. The spatial plan has also formed the basis for the development of Criteria for the assessment of human settlement developments to ensure that they aligned and in support of the plan. The assessment criteria are being tested in the assessment of the proposed catalytic projects.
In March 2014 the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) marked 10 years of existence. This programme is able to provide poverty and income relief through temporary work for the unemployed to carry out social useful activities. Public Employment Programmes are an important part of our programmatic approach to addressing the interlinked challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality. Important lessons learned from the 1st and 2nd Phase of the programme have been transferred to Phase 3. There are also elements from the previous phases that had been improved. This programme is a key government initiative that contributes to Government’s priorities and it directly contributes to outcome 4, which speaks to decent employment through inclusive economic growth. The phase 3 of the programme which was launched on 03 October 2014 in Keiskammahoek in Eastern Cape will create six million work opportunities over the next five years (2014-2019).
Through the EPWP Non-State Sector Programmes, namely the Community Work Programme and Non-Profit Organisations, government is working closely with non-governmental organisations, faith based organisations and community based organisations, an important counter-weight to the dangers of excessive bureaucratisation of Public Employment Programmes.
NATIONAL YOUTH DEVELOPMENT AGENCY
The NYDA successfully piloted the Grant Funding Programme and the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund. The Grant program helps fund youth who either want to start or expand their own businesses and ranges from R1 000 – R100 000. The NYDA has disbursed R25 million to 765 youth owned micro enterprises in the last financial year nationally. The NYDA has now approved a business case to intensify the new and unique NYDA Grant programme.
The NYDA has also partnered with the IDC & SEFA in a three-way partnership that has resulted in a R2.7 billion fund ring-fenced specifically for young people.
The NYDA currently implements the ‘Youth-Build’ programme in partnership with the Department of Human Settlements, municipalities and the National Home Builders Registration Council which allows young volunteers to be involved in building and maintaining community amenities and RDP houses. 3378 youth were supported through the youth build programmes which addresses the critical up-skilling in technical fields such as artisans that the country critically needs.
The NYDA supported 236 youth through the R20 million Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship Fund to enrol for the first time in institutions of higher learning across the country. The second phase of applications for next year will open soon.
WATER AND SANITATION
The Department of Water and Sanitation convened a successful Water and Sanitation Summit to engage with stakeholders on the new mandate of the department as well as the primary challenges facing water and sanitation in South Africa. The outcomes will assist in ensuring a seamless provision of these critical social services.
The Department of Water and Sanitation’s Learning Academy in partnership with a number of higher learning institutions and DHET works tirelessly to create a pool of expertise for the water and sanitation sector. At a five day Youth Summit held in June this year focusing on educating youth on water and sanitation stewardship, awarded 50 learners of school going age bursaries. Winners of the South African Youth Water Prize were announced and the overall winners became part of the department’s delegation to the World Water Week in Stockholm, Sweden. The CSIR, an entity of the Department of Science and Technology is also a partner that mentors these learners.
South Africa needs to save water as a life resource through water conservation and water demand management. Part of the efforts to achieve the objective of waving water is a “war on Leaks” intervention which was conducted in Mahikeng.
In the Eastern Cape in Gcuwa Deputy Minister Tshwete conducted a river-cleaning exercise as part of the “Adopt a River” programme, which focusses on job creation for women to assist in exiting from a cycle of poverty.
During August, we hosted the annual Women in Water Awards ceremony Celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the Women’s Charter and 20 Years of Freedom: Together Moving a non-racial, non-sexist South Africa forward, by recognising and acknowledging the efforts of women, mainly rural in alleviating the water challenges where they live.
We have also successfully dealt with the challenges that enveloped Gauteng due to unforeseen circumstances that bordered on criminality. The cooperation of all relevant stakeholders and affected parties assisted to bring the challenge to an end in the shortest possible time. We are also in the same vein pleading with our communities to appreciate the infrastructure in place for their collective benefit. We all have a responsibility to protect it protect all times.
As a country we must endeavour to reduce our water consumption as best we can. The matters of recycling and reuse must be undertaken by all, big consumers and the communities where they live.
Regarding the National Health Insurance (NHI), 544 Clinics in NHI Pilot Districts have received IT infrastructure (computers, printers and basic network equipment) and installation was concluded. In parallel, the Department is currently expanding the roll out of the web-based District Health Information System (DHIS). The Department has a near final version of the Health Patient Registration System (HPRS).
The implementation of NHI related activities for 2013/14 in the 10 NHI Pilot Districts were assessed through an external assessment and a detailed report was produced. This information will be used to further strengthen activities at a Districts Level in preparation for the implementation of NHI
435 facilities have been enrolled; and 106 932 patients are benefiting from the Upscale Chronic Medication Distribution programme enrolled. The initial medicines utilised were only for the three-in-one fixed dose combination antiretroviral and the programme is slowly incorporating the other chronic conditions as of August 2014.
We have been working with our partners within provinces as well as non-governmental organisations to increase screening and to increase public awareness of the need for screening of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertensions and diabetes.
Within the health fraternity – the World Health Organisation (WHO), UNAIDS, the AU Health Ministers’ Summit, the BRICS Ministers of Health Summit, the Commonwealth Health Ministers, the SADC and many others, there is broad consensus about the Post-2015 MDG World Health Agenda. The consensus is that the Post-2015 World Health Agenda must be characterised by three (3) goals: first, the MDGs 4, 5 and 6 need to continue far beyond 2015 which means that child mortality, maternal mortality and the fight against HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria should not stop at 2015; second, the world must decisively deal with the risk factors that cause the ever exploding pandemic of NCDs, which are smoking, harmful use of alcohol, poor diet and lack of exercise; third, the implementation of Universal Health Coverage by every country, which, in South Africa, we call the National Health Insurance.
In June this year, we had the Partnership Forum Summit in Johannesburg hosted by the WHO. The communiqué at the end of this Summit was that we need to ensure the well-being of every woman, child, newborn and adolescent. The communiqué implores us - both individually and collectively – to strive for the realisation of those noble goals. This is because maternal and child mortality is not only a health issue, but also an issue of the development of humanity.
In South Africa, we know what kills women in pregnancy and child birth despite our long held assertion that no woman should die giving life – HIV and AIDS which accounts for 49% of maternal mortality and 35% child mortality; Hypertension in pregnancy; and Haemorrhage including both ante and post-partum haemorrhage. It is for this reason we consistently and persistently pursue strong HIV and AIDS programmes for pregnant women like the prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT).
We have scored significant achievements in this regard. Whereas a decade ago we had 70 000 children born HIV positive in our country every year, we now have less than 8 000 annually, due to a massive and successful PMTCT programme. We are going to build up on this success in this medium term until no child is born HIV positive.
During the past 18 months, 1 468 doctors and 3 625 professional nurses have been trained in Essential Steps in the Management of Obstetric Emergencies. Our data suggest that in the districts that the training has been done, maternal deaths from bleeding after delivery is on the decline. We will continue with this programme until doctors and midwives in all districts in the country are well trained.
From the NCCEM’s triennial studies we know that of the 1 million+ women who fall pregnant annually, 8% are girls under the age of 18 years but they account for a whopping 36% of maternal deaths. There have been wild claims that the key driver of teenage pregnancy is the child support grant. There is no scientific evidence to back this. We have always argued, and United Nations Fund for Population Development has backed our argument, that one of the main drivers of teenage pregnancy in Sub-Saharan Africa is the lack of family planning. This has also led to exploding number of teenage abortions.
In dealing with this scourge, on 17 February 2014 we launched a new National Family Planning Campaign in Ekurhuleni in Gauteng, under the theme “Dual Protection” for consistent use of a condom together with another form of contraception device. We launched a totally new contraceptive device called the Sub-dermal implant, which is implanted just under the skin on the inner upper arm. This was the first time that this long acting reversible contraceptive, that remains active for a period of 3 years has been made available in the public health sector in South Africa. For this campaign, we have up to now trained 5 325 nurses across all public health facilities who are now able to administer implants even in the absence of a doctor. Within four months, we have already inserted 362 000 implants, far exceeding what we regarded as an annual targeted 320 000.
In our resolve to protect our future mothers against the dreadful cancer of the cervix of the uterus, we launched, together with the DBE, the HPV Vaccine (Human Papilloma Virus) Vaccine programme targeting Grade 4 girls in March this year. Over 2 000 vaccination teams were trained and visited over 90% of all public schools that have Grade 4 learners, during March and April this year. These teams immunised over 87% or just over 345 377 of the eligible Grade 4 girls. We are planning for a second dose in September and October this, and thereafter we will immunise new Grade 4 girls every year. The girls that have not yet turned 9 years during the year that they are in Grade 4 will be vaccinated the following year even if they leave the Grade 4 class. This nationwide initiative will have far-reaching implications for preventing cervical cancer in our future generations of women. That is why we are providing the vaccine in Free State in all public schools which would cost you between R700-R1000 in the private sector.
We conducted roadshows in all nine provinces in the two weeks leading up to the MomConnect Launch at KT Motubatse Clinic, in Soshanguve, Tshwane on 21 August 2014. MomConnect programme is a tool that is going to contribute to improving both the demand for health services and the supply side. Since the launch 21,200 women have either been subscribed or registered on MomConnect and are receiving weekly messages. To this end, we shall make sure that pregnant women are not just passive recipients of healthcare but are also active participants in claiming healthcare from our public health 21 August 2014; the Department of Health will launch MomConnect Project. Through MomConnect, all the registered pregnant women will receive “sms” messages appropriate to their stage of pregnancy. These messages will advise them what to do at any stage of their pregnancy. It will encourage them to start ante-natal care early, test for Hypertension, HIV and AIDS, Diabetes, etc. It will emphasise on starting PMTCT early at 14 weeks.
The woman will also be able to send us sms messages at no cost to themselves (the “Please Call Me”), to inform us of their concerns and experiences in our healthcare facilities. After delivery of the baby, MomConnect will still continue to provide information for up to a year. Only that this time, the “sms” messages will include advice on the baby – like exclusive breastfeeding, immunisation, family planning for the mother, oral rehydration during diarrhoea, check-up periods at the clinic, etc.
Our biggest problem remains HIV and AIDS and TB. We have made tremendous progress in the fight against these scourges in the last five (5) years. But a lot still needs to be done. The 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia, in July this year, took a very far-reaching decision to add a new target to the already existing international goals. The decision is that we need to bring an end to HIV and AIDS by 2030. The conference defined what is meant by bringing an end to HIV and AIDS by 2030. It means the following: (1) 90% of people know their status; (2) 90% of those that are HIV positive are on treatment; (3) 90% of those on treatment are virally suppressed. In other words, the strategy is 90% by 2030. Discounting this year, we have 15 years to achieve these targets globally.
We are determined to achieve these targets. But the question is: where do we start? South Africa has a population of 52 million people. Of those considered sexually active, there are 35 million, between the ages of 16 – 64. This is the number that needs to be prioritised for HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT). Of this number (35 million), between 8–9 million people are tested annually; of these the prevalence rate is 17%; for those between 15–49 years – with the prevalence of pregnant women who use public sector Ante-Natal clinics at 29%; we have 6 million people who are HIV positive; of these, 2,5 million have been initiated on treatment (this constitutes 80% of eligible women, 65% of eligible children and 65% of eligible men on treatment). This number of 2, 5 million on treatment is 30% or one-third of the total global figure; of these, about 50% receive viral load tests; of these 75% are virally suppressed; at 36 months we currently have 37% loss for follow-up.
Like elsewhere in the world, there are leakages in the HIV and AIDS cascade and this needs to be fixed to ensure that those that are prioritised for HCT are indeed tested and those eligible for treatment are initiated on treatment and stay on treatment. Our next step in the medium term period is to increase coverage in the manner proposed by the 90% approach. This means testing most if not all of the population annually, initiating everyone who is positive on treatment regardless of CD4 count and supporting all those that are on treatment. We will have to test people at schools, universities, workplaces, churches and community halls.
In further chasing those targets, in January 2015 we shall move all HIV positive pregnant women to the WHO’s option B+ as opposed to the current option B, that is, operational in the country. This means that every pregnant HIV-positive woman will be on a lifelong treatment regardless of their CD4 status.
Further, as from January 2015, we shall start HIV positive patients on treatment at the CD4 count of less than 500 as against the present CD4 count of less than 350.
So this massive treatment programme will also be accompanied by a wide range of prevention techniques including massive condom distribution, HCT, PMTCT, the management of sexually transmitted illnesses, massive medical male circumcision for which we are targeting four million men by 2016; provision of safe-blood transfusion which we have already achieved because it is very rare now in South Africa to get HIV and AIDS from blood transfusion. This did not happen on its own; we made it happen, through the state-of-the-art facility installed at our main blood transfusion centre in Roodepoort. Other methods will include information, mass education and communication, as well as social mobilisation. It is well known that keeping girl children at school at least until Grade 12, protects them from pregnancy and HIV and AIDS acquisition.
Encouraged by the excellent progress we have made in the last financial year on the management and treatment of TB, in 2014/15 we will screen all 150 000 inmates in our Correctional Services Facilities, all the 500 000 miners and the 600 000 strong peri-mining communities in 6 districts that have a high level of mining activity. In addition, we will embark on a massive decentralisation of MDR-TB, initiation, management and treatment. Presently we have 100 such decentralised sites, and we are intending to increase them to 2 500. This will happen through a rapid establishment and scale-up of nurse-led MDR-TB treatment management teams at municipal ward level.
Africa is experiencing the most devastating outbreak of ebola in history and as South Africa we are doing as much as we can to assist West Africa to contain and manage the outbreak. As part of our interventions, the Minister will address the media tomorrow at OR Tambo airport hotel at 14h00 to announce the partnership with the private sector on building a field hospital in Sierra Leone.
The achievements we have recorded have been the result of various sectors and citizens working with government, playing their part for a better South Africa. We look forward to working with our social partners in the country and beyond to move South Africa forward.
We have a clear mandate and a clear Programme of Action, but we remain open to consultation and will remain flexible to adapt where necessary.
I thank you