Honourable Premier, Ramoeletsi Mahumapelo
Executive Major for Bojanala District Municipality,
Magosi a Rona,
Executive Managers of the Department,
MMCs and other local government councilors present,
Members of our governance structures,
Other Departments and our sector partners,
Members of our various NGOs, CBOs and FBOs,
Ladies and gentlemen,
We have gathered here today to commemorate World Aids Day and to highlight achievements reached with regard to the HIV/AIDS programme. As we do this, we also want to reflect on the milestones we have achieved as provincial government in fighting the scourge of HIV/AIDS.
The provincial government of Bokone Bophirima has deemed it fit to commemorate the “World AIDS Day” jointly with the “Reconciliation Day” in advance.
As a province we are saying there is a need for communities to reconcile with one another, irrespective of the cause of their differences. The need to coexist peacefully is greater than to habour conflicts amongst communities and individuals. It is therefore apt to commemorate these two together. Hence, today’s event is aimed at drawing your attention to both reconciliation and Healing among diversified groups.
World AIDS Day is commemorated each year on the 1st of December and is an opportunity for every community to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show support for people living with HIV and remember those who have passed away. The theme for this year’s commemoration as pronounced by the UNAIDS during the launch of the World Aids Day Campaign is, “My Health, My Right”, which focuses on the right to health while exploring the challenges people around the globe face in exercising their rights. It is therefore imperative to remember that access to treatment and Care is a Human Right which may lead to lawsuit if not complied with.
Today’s event also provides an ideal opportunity to rally South Africans together under the new National HIV and AIDS Strategic Plan (NSP). One of the main objectives for the World AIDS Day 2017 campaign is to improve collaboration and cooperation between Government, Civil Society, Developmental partners and Private sector.
The introduction of the 90-90-90 strategy by the National Department of Health requires that by 2020, 90% of people should know their status, 90% who know their status should be on treatment and 90% of those on treatment should be virally suppressed.
In South Africa, an estimated 6,8 million people are living with HIV and AIDS; 4.2 million are on Ante retroviral therapy (ART) with the public health sector contributing to 3,9 million people. The country has seen a reduction in new HIV infections, from 360 000 in 2012 to 270 000 in 2016. However, this milestone is still below the country’s target of reducing new HIV infections to 88 000 by the year 2020.
In the North-West Province, an estimated 474 768 people are living with HIV. A total of 24 413 which is 5.6% of people living with HIV in the Province of Bokone Bophirima are children below the age of 15 years. A total of 234 454 are on lifelong ART and receiving treatment at our public health facilities. The HIV positivity rate for the age group 15 – 49 years has decreased from 9.3% in 2015/16 to 6.8% in 2016/17. This is a great achievement, however, the most vulnerable groups and key populations still remain hard to reach.
The number of patients initiated and remaining on ART has increased from 190 861 in 2015/16 to 222 921 in 2016/17. This is attributed to the 2016/17 Universal Test and Treat policy change that recommends fast tracking treatment initiation of all people testing HIV positive without considering the CD4 count.
The partnership with mining houses has also increased access to services, and developmental partners such as Aurum and URC are working with the Department to service such areas.
HIV and AIDS is not a departmental problem alone, but a societal problem and therefore, there is a need for more community based structures and civil society to complement the formal health sector in addressing HIV, AIDS as well as TB.
Political support and will also needs to be intensified from all government departments and the House of Traditional Leadership needs to play its role in supporting programmes such as Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) and the avoidance of the use of traditional medicines in the treatment of HIV. Religious sector also need to come to the party in dispelling the myths that religion can cure HIV and AIDS. All sectors of the society, therefore, need to be encouraged to participate in social mobilisation and advocacy activities.
In Conclusion, there is still no cure for HIV infection. However, effective antiretroviral (ARV) drugs can control the virus and help prevent transmission so that people with HIV, and those at substantial risk, can enjoy healthy, long and productive lives. Let us therefore work together to ensure an HIV/AIDS free society. It is only through unity that we will eventually win this battle!!!
I thank you!
Ke a leboga!