11 February 2011
The South African government will be stepping up its fight against HIV/Aids by promoting various prevention measures, including medical male circumcision and prevention of mother-to-child infections, President Jacob Zuma told Parliament on Thursday.
Delivering his State of the Nation address to a joint sitting of Parliament in Cape Town, Zuma said the government’s massive testing campaign, announced a year ago, had proved to be successful, with more than five-million HIV tests having been conducted since the launch of the campaign.
He said government would also broaden the scope of reproductive health rights and provide services related to contraception, sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancy and sanitary towels for the indigent.
The Department of Health has set a target of 50 percent reduction in the number of new HIV/Aids infections by 2011. In the same period, antiretroviral medication would be provided to at least 80 percent of South Africans who needed the treatment.
Last year, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan allocated an additional R3-billion to the fight against HIV/Aids in the country. This was in addition to the R5.4-billion rand that was announced to enable the HIV/Aids programme to take on more people and improve the effectiveness of treatment programmes.
The extra money took account of further policy measures to broaden access to those co-infected with TB and women and children with CD4 counts lower than 350.
Zuma also announced the government’s plans to revitalise 105 nursing colleges countrywide to train more nurses in preparation for the National Health Insurance scheme scheduled to be introduced in South Africa in the near future.
Plans were also under way to open a medical faculty at the Limpopo Academic Hospital to train more doctors.
He said work on developing the NHI policy and implementation plan was ongoing, and that the government would soon be releasing a policy document for public engagement.