Partnership Against AIDS Initiative

Keynote Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Honorable Mrs Hazel Jenkins, at the Partnership Against AIDS Initiative Event, Northern Cape Legislature, Kimberley

09 OCTOBER 2009

Programme Director - Acting Head of the Health Department- Dr. Dion Theys

Chairperson of ANC, the ruling party – MEC John Block

Members of the Executive Council

Chairperson and Members of the Provincial Portfolio Committee on Health

The Honorable Mayor of Sol Plaatje Municipality – Cllr. Patrick Everyday

All Municipal Councilors present

Senior Managers, District managers and Departmental officials present

Representatives from all different communities and religious institutions and structures across our beloved Province

Distinguished Guests

Ladies and Gentlemen, especially all citizens of the Northern Cape Province

I am both privileged and grateful to give an address to this distinguished gathering on behalf of the Deputy President, Hon. Kgalema Mothlanthe, the Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council.

I would also like to congratulate the organisers of the event for having been able to attract, I am told, more than 1000 delegates from national and across our beautiful province.

In addition, I would like to commend the Provincial Department of Health's proactive and constructive approach in its engagements with the National Department of Health through creating strategic partnerships that enable effective regulatory interventions on key public policy issues, that resulted into initiatives of this nature.

Ladies and gentlemen, among the issues raised by communities in the build-up to the April 2009 elections provided the basis for Health being prioritised as part of the five priority areas to which the ANC led government has committed to deliver on, in the next five years.

As a result of this call by the masses of our people for quality health care, Government has identified the need to overhaul the national health system. This overhaul will assist us in the attainment of our health priorities for the next five years. They include the accelerated implementation of the HIV and AIDS strategic plan, the need to address the co-infection of TB/HIV and to increase government's focus on high burden of disease.

Therefore, this Partnership Against HIV and AIDS event today has been preceded by the Voluntary Counseling and Testing (VCT) Week which started on 28 September until 02 October 2009 under the theme: “Know your status, lead and unite”. During the said week, I lead the Members of the Executive Council, Mayors, Councilors, Heads of Departments and Senior Managers through voluntarily testing of oneself as a demonstration of leadership in our collective resolve to fight the scourge of HIV and AIDS.

This Partnership Against AIDS Initiative was launched on the 09th October 1998 as a call to action for South Africans to actively participate in turning the tide against HIV and AIDS. The initiative has been geared towards ensuring the greater involvement of Individuals, Communities, Businesses, Non-Governmental Organizations, Unions, Traditional Healers, Traditional Leaders, Government Departments and all other sectors. There is no doubt that all stakeholders have a critical role to play in the fight against HIV and AIDS, as we strongly believe working together we can do more.

Ladies and gentlemen, this year marks the 11th anniversary of this initiative which is hosted by our beloved Northern Cape Province.

The observance and commemoration of the Partnership Against AIDS (PAA) is a massive campaign that highlights gains made by South Africans in the Multi-Sectoral HIV and AIDS response. This year’s commemoration is to strengthen and reinforce the importance of partnerships in upholding human rights and responsibilities within the context of HIV and AIDS as encapsulated in the National Strategic Plan for 2007-2011. Furthermore, this initiative came as a result of our government’s firm believe that our collective efforts in tackling the scourge of HIV/AIDS and TB will be able to bear positive fruits.

Therefore, the theme for this year’s Partnership Against HIV and AIDS (PAA) 2009 is, “STOP HIV and AIDS. Uphold Human Rights”. This theme seeks to strengthen commitment to upholding human rights to all South Africans, vulnerable groups, including People Living with HIV as enshrined in the bill of rights. The theme “STOP HIV and AIDS. Uphold Human Rights” is a clarion call to all partners to rededicate and remember the promises and pledges made in the past fifteen (15) years since the dawn of our democracy.

Ladies and gentlemen, the core messages during the 2009 Partnership Against AIDS (PAA) commemoration focuses on the following:

* Support and sustain Multisectoral HIV and AIDS partnerships at all levels.
* Provide supportive and effective leadership to ensure comprehensive

qualitative HIV and AIDS interventions.

* Showcase and profile best practices on HIV and AIDS and STIs
* Ensure continuous consultation and networking with all role players, sectors and partners in the HIV and AIDS response.
* Build capacity for sectors at all levels, particularly at community level.
* Create and sustain an enabling environment to eradicate stigma and discrimination.

In addition, this campaign is also in line with our Government’s focus on the prevention of mother-to-child transmission acceleration plan, maternal and infant mortality and combating HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, as identified in the Government’s 10 point plan for the health sector.

Esteemed guests, undoubtedly the participation of communities in moral regeneration programmes will go a long way towards building a moral and caring society. Working together we can do more to build a strong culture of 'Caring' and entrench social positive values that promote responsible sexual behaviour.

The need for a partnership approach in the fight against HIV and AIDS cannot be overemphasized. Strategic partners who on a daily basis play a pivotal role assisting government to fight HIV and AIDS pandemic include:-

* All health sector NGO’s,
* SABCOHA
* Home Based Care Givers
* Key Community Groups (Women’s groups, youth disability sector, Faith Based Organization, Traditional Healers, Business, Mining Sectors, Educational sectors)
* Political Leadership (Mayor and Councilors)
* Health Care Workers

Programme Director, in 2008, the Northern Cape provincial HIV prevalence amongst 15-49 antenatal women was 16.2% compared to 16.5% in 2007. The prevalence has varied by less than 1% in the past 3 years, and has shown stabilization between 2007 and 2008. Namakwa district has consistently recorded the lowest HIV prevalence (2.2% in 2008) in the whole country. Frances Baard recorded the highest HIV prevalence (21.8%) in the province in 2008.

HIV prevalence among age group, 15 – 19 years, has decreased significantly between 2006 and 2008. This is a positive step towards achievement of the strategic goal of the Provincial Strategic Plan for HIV & AIDS, and STI`s (2007 – 2011) of reducing by half new HIV infections by 2011.

These results are contributed to the Department of Health being able to significantly increase the number of partnerships with reputable organizations like Right to Care, ICAP, Pathfinder, Society for Family Health, NASTAD to name a few. This had an impact especially in the areas of prevention and treatment. Efforts are continuing towards the implementation of the syndromic management of STI`s and a wider distribution of condoms in the province.

However, the noted trend of the HIV epidemic towards stabilization does not take away the need of a concerted effort from all involved stakeholders to improve and maintain on the gains made.

Programme Director, I want to conclude by saying that our collective resolve to respond to the plight of our infected and affected members of society should serve as rallying point for our partnership to make a difference, and change the lives of our staff members for the better.

Whatever difficulties and challenges we face due to the scourge of HIV and AIDS, we dare not to lose focus on the responsibility to care for the vulnerable and destitute members of our society. If we fail, history will judge us very harshly.

Working Together we can do more!!!!!! Realeboga!!! Thank you!!!!!!!

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