14 February 2014
South Africa aims to increase the number of people on its state antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programme to at least 4.6-million people over the next five years, says President Jacob Zuma.
Delivering his State of the Nation address to Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, Zuma said said the turnaround in the South Africa’s HIV/Aids programme – now being used as a model by the United Nations Aids Programme (UNAids) – was one the country’s biggest achievements over the past five years.
There had been a sharp decline in the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, while the number of South Africans receiving free anti-retroviral treatment had grown from one-million in 2009 to 2.4-million people in 2013.
More than 20-million South Africans have been voluntarily tested for HIV since the launch of the government’s HIV counselling and testing programme in 2010.
“Life expectancy is now firmly on an upward trend. South Africans are now living longer,” Zuma said, adding: “While celebrating our success, we must not be complacent. The prevention work must still continue so that we can reach that goal of zero HIV infections sooner.”
The President noted that the country would soon enter a new phase in the implementation of the National Health Insurance programme, which will extend quality healthcare to the poor.
Other health care improvements over the past five years include the construction of 300 new health facilities, including 160 new clinics.
“Ten new hospitals have been built or refurbished in Ladybrand, Germiston, Mamelodi, Natalspruit, eThekwini, Zola, Bojanala, Vryburg District, Swartruggens, Khayelitsha and Mitchell’s Plain,” Zuma said.