Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Speech by the Honourable Premier Ms. H. Jenkins on the occasion of the Provincial Launch of the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign

Tswaragano, John Taolo Gaetsewe District – Northern Cape

30 April 2010

Today marks yet another significant milestone in our fight against HIV and AIDS, as we assemble to launch our new comprehensive HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment plan. The launch of the Provincial HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign today is a direct response aimed at increasing our efforts to address the scourge of HIV and AIDS in our province and our country.

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The HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign is launched under the banner: “I am responsible...We are responsible... South Africa is taking responsibility”. This theme will be sustained throughout 2010-2011. The theme urges each and every one of us to take personal and collective responsibility of our own health and HIV status. Government and all social partners must take collective responsibility to ensure quality services. It is only through a multi-sectoral approach that we as a country and a province can effectively address the challenges we face regarding HIV and AIDS.
There are many distinguished research reports which have shown that, South Africa could be facing a quadruple pandemic of HIV & AIDS and TB, maternal, infant less than 5years mortality, violence and injury, and non-communicable diseases like high blood pressure, heart diseases, diabetes mellitus, and cancer. It is time to reverse this trend for all these conditions but in particular, to implement more intensive interventions for the prevention and control of HIV & AIDS and TB.

We now know that the co-morbidity status for TB/HIV is around 65%. Therefore this campaign will no doubt also present an important opportunity for more TB/HIV integration because; for every person who tests positive for HIV, we MUST look for TB in order to make the diagnoses very early, thus improving the patient’s response to TB treatment. Prompt screening for TB in an HIV positive individual also offers an opportunity for protection if the person does not yet have active TB, through the administration of Isoniazid Preventive Therapy (IPT), which reduces the risk of active TB developing by almost 60%.

Government will focus on outputs and activities contributing to “a long and healthy life for all South Africans”. The key objective will be to increase the life expectancy of citizens and ensure that all people have access to healthcare. Key outputs that have been set are to:

  • Reduce the impact and prevalence of HIV and Aids and tuberculosis
  • Reduce the mortality rate
  • Ensure an effective healthcare system.

On World AIDS day, 1st December 2009, the President, His Excellency Mr Jacob Zuma announced new mandates in our fight against the HIV and AIDS epidemic in South-Africa. One of these is the Mass HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign which we are launching today. This announcement came in line with the key goals of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV & AIDS 2007 – 2011, which are:

  • To reduce the number of new infections (especially among young people in the 15-24 age group)
  • To reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS on individuals, families, communities, and society.

By implication the above two (2) areas are mainly affected by the announcement namely HIV Counselling & Testing (HCT) and accelerated Rollout of Treatment Care and Support.
Programme director, government aims to reach fifteen(15) million people nationally by 30 June 2011 as well as expanding the Anti-retroviral treatment(ART) at all health facilities to one and a half (1.5) million through this campaign.
In the Northern Cape province we aim to reach six-hundred and ninety thousand (690 000) people through voluntary HIV counselling and testing, three-hundred and thirty-seven thousand nine- hundred and forty-one(337 941) of whom are expected to test for HIV and twenty-one thousand(21000) people to have access to ART by the end of the campaign. We call upon all to visit their nearest health facility or any other testing station as to be set up by our developmental partners and the business sector.

Know your HIV status, get tested.

As the ANC led government of South-Africa, we have an obligation towards the healthcare of our people. In this light, as a response to the call of our people during the April 2009 elections, health has been prioritized as the one of the five key areas together with crime, education, rural development and job creation for the next five years. In addition, government developed a Ten Point Plan to address the service delivery challenges faced by the health sector.

The HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign(HTC) is a direct response to Point seven(7) - Accelerated implementation of the HIV and AIDS and STI National Strategic Plan 2007-2011, and increased focus on TB and other communicable diseases as well as Point eight(8) - Mass mobilisation for better health for the population of the plan.

Furthermore, we encourage everyone to take personal and collective responsibility to stop the spread of new HIV infections, provide care and support to those living with HIV and to ensure access to treatment for all people in need.HIV, AIDS and TB does not discriminate. We are all exposed to these diseases and it is the responsibility of us all to contribute in our fight against these diseases.

It will be through numerous channels, mediums and platforms that we aim to inform and empower our people across the province on the aims and objectives of the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT):

  • Door to door campaigns
  • Taxi rank/malls/public gathering activations
  • Educational institution events
  • Community events
  • Religious events
  • Linking HCT to existing community events, health and wellness days

We encourage each and every one of you to support, attend and be part of these government and community programmes and initiatives aimed at intensifying and strengthening our combined efforts in the fight against HIV and AIDS.
With regard to care and support of HIV positive people and their families, we now ensure that:

  • HIV positive children less than one year of age with ARV’s. This will significantly contribute towards the reduction of infant mortality.
  • All patients infected with both HIV and TB now receives anti-retroviral treatment if their CD4 count is 350 or less.
  • All pregnant HIV positive women with a CD4 count of 350, or with symptoms, regardless of CD4 count, now have access to treatment.

In addition, as part of the Department of Health’s comprehensive approach to healthcare and primary healthcare in particular, the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign (HCT) will also allow people to be screened for hypertension, blood sugar levels, haemoglobin, TB and pap smear. This is in line with the Department of Health's strategy of preventing diseases before their onset.
Programme director, at present the country’s testing rate for HIV stands at about two million (2m) over the past twelve (12) months while the capacity for the country is much higher. In the coming twelve (12) months nationally we aim to conduct three point eight (3.8) million HIV tests between April and June 2010. As the Northern Cape Province our target in the same period is eighty-four thousand four-hundred and eighty-five (84 485) tests. Regarding condom distribution, as a province we will aim to distribute three point eight (3.8) million condoms over the next twelve (12) months.

In reaching the targets we have set, a coordinated multi-sectoral approach is needed. The success of the HCT campaign depends on the contribution of numerous sectors of society to pool their resources, energies, skills and experience together. We urge the youth, faith-based, people living with HIV, traditional leaders, people living with disabilities, business, labour, sports and entertainment sectors to actively contribute to ensure the success of the campaign. These sectors are required to:

  • Promoting the HCT campaign in communities
  • Provide Health Treatment and Care (HTC) services, especially in the far flung areas of our province
  • Provide information & awareness in communities
  • Providing information on support services to get people tested
  • Facilitating improved accessible health service

On that note, we join the National Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi by calling upon all retired nurses and other cadres of health workers to be part of this campaign and contribute their experience and skills at the nearest health facility. In order to meet the demand of testing and treatment, the Province has already embarked on a needs assessment exercise to establish the capacity of our health facilities to deliver the mass testing campaign and access to treatment.

While there are still infrastructural and human resource challenges at these facilities, plans are underway to ensure that, as indicated by the President, any citizen should be able to move into any health centre and ask for counselling, testing and even treatment if needed.
Monitoring and evaluation forms an integral part to determine the success or failure of the campaign. Monitoring of the HTC Campaign will focus on tracking progress towards achievement of the campaign outputs against set objectives and the key components. In this regard, the Northern Cape has an established provincial nerve centre which is fed by nineteen (19) satellite nerve centres comprising of district health offices and hospitals.
The campaign’s components are: social mobilization, advocacy and communication, health systems and monitoring and evaluation.
At the end of the campaign, we want to be able to know the following:

  • Number of people who have been pre-test counselled
  • Number of people who have been tested for HIV
  • Number of people testing HIV positive
  • Number of patients who will qualify for Anti-retroviral treatment

Ladies and gentlemen, the HCT campaign is not just a mass testing campaign. If performed correctly, and consistently, counselling is an effective HIV Prevention intervention.

In conclusion, the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign is government’s effort to really intensify our efforts in our fight against HIV, AIDS and TB. We call upon all citizens of the province to get yourself tested for HIV to know your status. It is only through our collective response to the call that we can really say that we all contributing towards the fight against these life threatening diseases.
To our youth, I call on you to join the army of volunteers and be active combatants in the fight against HIV/AIDS which has hit our youth the hardest.

Working together, we can do more in the fight against HIV, AIDS and TB".

I now would like to take the opportunity to present myself for a public HIV test and I invite my colleagues in the Executive Council, Members of the Provincial Legislature, Mayors and counsellors to join me in demonstrating our joint commitment for this campaign.

Thank you!
Ke aleboga!

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