Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Commemoration of World AIDS Day

Speech by the Acting Premier of the Northern Cape Province, Ms Sylvia Lucas, on the occasion of the Commemoration of World AIDS Day 01 December. Paballelo: Upington – Siyanda District – Northern Cape,

01 December 2010: 10H00
Programme Director

Speaker of the Northern Cape Legislature

Members of the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature

Members of the Executive Council

Chairperson and Members of the Provincial Portfolio Committee on Health

Honourable Executive Mayor of Siyanda District Municipality

All Honourable Executive Mayors and Mayors

All Municipal Councillors

Esteemed guests

Senior Managers, District managers and Departmental officials from the different Government Departments

All NGO’s and strategic partners

Representatives from all the different communities, religious and political institutions and structures across the province

Esteemed Members of the media

Ladies and Gentlemen

World AIDS Day is important for reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things that still need to be done to curb its spread. World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for all of us - individuals, communities and political leaders - to take action and ensure that human rights are protected and global targets for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care are met.

HIV/AIDS is a single most dangerous disease that affects humanity today and has been spreading at an alarming rate. It is everybody’s responsibility because it does not discriminate whether you are male or female or black or white.

Today we welcome all to re-emphasize and re-energize our commitment as a nation and a province to continue our fight against HIV, AIDS and TB.

As part of the international community, we are continuing to celebrate the 22nd commemoration of World AIDS day in South-Africa today under the theme: ““I am responsible, We are responsible, South-Africa is taking responsibility”. However, the theme for 2010 will focus on: “WE ARE RESPONSIBLE: Couples, Friends, Families, Communities talking to make a difference” and seeks to address the collective responsibility of South Africans to dialogue on issues that affect their health.

The theme urges each and every one of us to take personal and collective responsibility to stop new HIV infections, and provide treatment, care and support to people living with HIV. 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.

Programme director, I want to take this opportunity, as part of World AIDS Day, to officially launch the Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) as an HIV prevention strategy. We call upon all to raise awareness to communities about the importance of Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) in addition to existing strategies to combat HIV and AIDS.

Ladies and gentlemen, as a country, South-Africa is facing a quadruple Burden of Disease consisting of HIV & AIDS and TB, Maternal and Child Mortality, Non-Communicable diseases and Violence and Injuries. The life expectancy of South-Africans has decreased. HIV/AIDS and TB prevalence has increased over the past years together with Child and Neonatal deaths, Maternal mortalities, Non-communicable diseases like hypertension,cancer and diabetes. It the responsibility of all citizens of our country and our province, to stand together to fight these diseases and ensure we build a healthy society today, and for the future.

In line with the above, the National Department of Health developed the Negotiated Service Delivery Agreement(NSDA) for the Health sector with the following key outputs to ensure we address the quadruple Burden of Disease we are facing:

  • Increased life expectancy,
  • Reduction in Maternal and Child Mortality rates,
  • Combating HIV and AIDS and decreasing the burden of disease from Tuberculosis and
  • Strengthening Health System effectiveness

Programme Director, the ANC led government has identified Health as one of five key focus areas for the next five years together with rural development, crime prevention, job creation and education. In addition, government developed a Ten Point Plan specifically for the Health sector. Addressing HIV/AIDS and TB fall directly under number 7: Accelerated implementation of the HIV & AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections National Strategic Plan 2007-11 and increased focus on TB and other communicable diseases as well as number 8: Mass mobilization for better health for the population.

The National Strategic Plan(NSP) for HIV, AIDS and STI’s 2007-2011 forms part of Government’s aim is to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by fifty percent(50%) by the year 2011 and reach eighty percent (80%) of those in need of ARV treatment also by 2011. The National Strategic Plan is based on four important pillars that allows us to formulate and implement the necessary intervention in our fight against HIV and AIDS - prevention, treatment, care and support, human rights and access to social justice and monitoring, research and surveillance.

In the past two decades (1990 - 2009), the South African Department of Health has produced good sentinel surveillance data that assists in monitoring the HIV epidemicprevalence trends in the 15 - 49 years old female population. Using the Spectrum model, the 2009 the HIV prevalence in the adult population (aged 15-49) was estimated at 17.2%; or 5.63 million adults and children were with infected with HIV and AIDS. For 2009, and estimated 314 000 South Africans died of AIDS; of whom 284 000 were adults; there were approximately 1.95 million AIDS orphans. For 2009, an estimated 1.584 million South Africans aged 15 and older were in need of Anti Retroviral Therapy; approximately 158 000 children needed Anti Retroviral Therapy and estimated 214 000 mothers were in need of PMTCT.

Three out of the five health districts in the Northern Cape recorded HIV prevalence rates below 20 per cent and only one between 20 to 30%. J.T. Gaetsewe, Pixley Ka Seme and Siyanda HIV prevalence decreased by 1.5%, 1.2% and 0.6% respectively from 2008 to 2009. The HIV prevalence has increased slightly from 21.8% to 25.1 in Frances Baard from 2008 to 2009

The HIV epidemic is still one of the major challenges to the country's socio-economic development. It has been eight (8) months since the watershed announcements by His Excellency the President of the Republic of South Africa Jacob Zuma, which saw the introduction of important policies regarding HIV Counseling & Testing (HCT) campaign, improved Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) and the expansion of ART services in the country. However, the government, civil society, non-governmental organizations and international partners continue to commit themselves to fight this scourge.

Syphilis also remains one of the province’s biggest health challenge. The estimated highest prevalence of syphilis (5.6%) in 2009 was recorded in the Northern Cape. There was a slight decrease in syphilis prevalence in the Northern Cape from 3.8% in 2008 to 2.0% in 2009 and from 6.8% in 2008 to 5.6% in 2009 respectively. New strategies is being developed to address to address this disease.

Ladies and gentlemen, World AIDS Day 2010 aims to mobilize South Africans to increase uptake of the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign (HIV); and to begin a series of community dialogues that will ensure the effective consultation and input of all South Africans into the process of developing the National Strategic Plan 2012 – 2016.

South Africans have heard from their leaders, and have taken on the responsibility of enhancing the healthy lifestyle approach. The individual South African has begun the journey towards a healthier citizen. However, without the support of partners, family, communities, government and other social support systems, the individuals’ endeavour to achieve a healthy lifestyle is challenged.

2011 needs to be a year where South Africans take collective responsibility to ensure that:

We support and influence people within our sphere of influence to reduce risky sexual behaviour in order to prevent the spread of HIV;

We continue to test and influence other to test for HIV and TB as a routine way of ensuring we make the correct healthy lifestyle choices - irrespective of status; and

We begin a dialogue amongst South Africans, in our homes, communities, workplaces and places of worship, to support a process that will assist the country in the development of the next National Strategy that will guide our response from 2012 – 2016 addressing the following- Gender based violence, education and awareness raising on TB and HIV, “Vote for Life” campaign, Kick off to the envisaged HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) School campaign.

All sectors of society must start to interrogate their role as sectors and communities in addressing the epidemic and show that WE ARE RESPONSIBLE and WE CARE for each other in ensuring a healthy society.

The HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) Campaign is one of government’s strategies to increase the number of people tested for HIV and to get these people on ARV treatment as soon as possible. I want to call on all the people of the Northern Cape to interrogate the roles that they can play towards an effective provincial response to HIV and AIDS:

HIV testing is free at all public health facilities.

Individuals have the right to:

the highest level of quality service from testers and counsellors

pre- and post-testing in a confidential manner and with informed consent.

Don’t just test once – make HIV testing a regular practice, especially if you are sexually active.

* Just like diabetes and high blood pressure, HIV can be managed through healthy living and treatment.
* All children under one year of age will get treatment if they test HIV positive, regardless of their CD4 count levels; and patients with both TB and HIV will be treated with antiretrovirals if their CD4 counts are 350 or less.
* All HIV positive pregnant women will be put on treatment at 14 weeks of pregnancy to protect the baby.

The use of smarter technology allows a greater reach of people to access the right information to help understand how to prevent infection, how to manage HIV and AIDS and how to help others cope.

The Northern Cape Province has steadily been implementing HIV Counselling & Testing services across the province. To date over 70 000 people in the Northern Cape responded to this call and now know their HIV status, while they also received screening for Tuberculosis. This figure represents just over 20% of the provincial target of 337 941 by the end of June 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen, regarding TB, the Northern Cape Province is reporting a marked increase in the number of TB cases over the past 5 years. More than 6000 cases were reported in 2006 and this number increased to 10 700 in 2010. Some of the contributory factors include high poverty levels coupled with poor housing infrastructure, overcrowding which could be the breeding ground for transmission of TB and in addition, the TB infection rates have been increasing alarmingly due to a rise in HIV/AIDS spread.

The TB cure rate in South Africa, similar to the Northern Cape is increasing slowly, but it is still below the World Health Organization (WHO) target of curing at least 85 percent of the people testing positive. 65.5% of new TB cases diagnosed during 2008 in the province were cured. It is imperative to follow-up patients, investigate the reasons for stopping treatment, and correct the problems. We should be involving communities in this struggle, regarding each patient as a source of spread to more people, and as a potential MDR-TB patient.

The TB tracer project has been implemented in Frances Baard and four(4) local municipalities in the Pixley ka Seme district. The project is aimed at tracing all patients who stop taking their TB treatment and ensure that they are placed back on treatment. 85% of the TB defaulters were traced and resumed treatment. People with HIV are at a much higher risk of contracting TB than those who are HIV negative. HIV negative people have a lifetime risk of contracting TB of 10%. However, those with HIV have a 10% risk every year. In addition, the improved TB cure rate can be attributed to improved management of TB patients through the provision of ART for all TB patients co-infected with HIV and have a CD count of 350 and ART provision for all Drug Resistant patients co-infected with HIV and AIDS.

South Africa will this year, together with the rest of the world, are observing the 11th anniversary of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign for No Violence against Women and Children Campaign, which started on 25 November (International Day of No Violence against Women) and closes on 10 December 2010 (International Human Rights Day) and includes World AIDS Day (01 December) and International Day of Persons with Disabilities (03 December).

Government and stakeholders from all sectors of society are commemorating the campaign under the theme: “Don’t Look Away, Act against Abuse”. The campaign is aimed to unite communities and families; to ensure that men stop abusing women; respect women and children; ensure tough action against perpetrators: empower young women and children; ensure a better life for people to create a violence-free society; recruit men and boys as active members of the campaign.

Even though the campaign has succeeded in raising awareness among the South African public, government is concerned that the high numbers of cases of abuse and killings of women and children continue to rise. As part of its enhanced effort to fight crime, government has therefore vowed to continue to work hard to help cultivate a culture of taking action against abuse by relevant authorities within the criminal justice system, communities, civil society and other stakeholders.

Various pieces of legislation have also been introduced since 1994 to address issues that negatively affect women and children, such as the Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act, 2000, the Children’s Act, 2005 and the Children’s Amendment Act, 2007.

Government has further implemented and supported many interventions, such as the Children’s Rights Charter, which protects the dignity of women and children. In accordance with the Victims Charter, the rights of victims of crime who engage with the Criminal Justice System are being promoted. In addition, government has committed itself to international cooperation in addressing the challenges of violence against women and children.

In celebrating the 16 Days of Activism Campaign, government is calling on all citizens to support the campaign by:

  • wearing white ribbons and participating in various events planned for the duration of the campaign
  • playing an active role in the fight against the scourge of violence by volunteering in support groups and community groups which support abused women and children
  • speaking out against the abuse of women and children.

Ladies and gentlemen, community participation and consultation form the cornerstone for effective and efficient service delivery enhancement.

Fully functional structures like the Provincial and District AIDS Councils across the province contribute immensely to our fight against HIV and AIDS.

As the Northern Cape Provincial Government, we would like to extend a great thank you to all members for their contributions and commitment to ensure we continue in our quest to bring health services closer to our people.

A further thank you to all the health professionals, community health workers and our strategic NGO partners for their time, effort and compassion to look after and assist the most vulnerable in our communities to ensure they have a healthy life.

As we enter the festive season, the Northern Cape Provincial Government wants to take this opportunity to wish all a safe and joyful festive season that is free of violence, crime and road accidents.

Working together, we can do more!


Thank you!


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