R3bn boost for SA’s fight against HIV

9 October 2013

South Africa has received R3-billion from the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe announced during a meeting of the South African National Aids Council (Sanac) in Rustenburg, North West province on Tuesday.

Motlanthe, who is chairperson of Sanac, said the approval of the largest Global Fund grant South Africa had ever received would allow the country to expand its programmes for the treatment of Aids and TB, but also for the important work of preventing new infections.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said 52% of the grant would go to the national Department of Health, with the rest being divided among a range of NGOs working in the field, such as Right to Care, the National Religious Association for Social Development, and the National Aids Convention of South Africa.

On HIV/Aids, Motsoaledi said the money would be spent on various programmes, including the procurement of antiretroviral (ARV) medicines for 350 000 patients within the country, and on strengthening the central procurement unit to avoid drug stock-outs.

Sanac CEO Dr Fareed Abdullah said the grant would also allow the country to tackle the causes of new infections in young women, as well as in high-risk populations such as sex workers.

TB: focus on prisons, mines

On tuberculosis, Motsoaledi said the biggest concentration of TB in South Africa was in the country’s prisons. On World TB Day in March, a new diagnostic tool, GeneXpert, had been unveiled at Polsmoor Prison.

Between March and August, in Polsmoor alone, 12 656 inmates had been screened for TB, of whom 2 327 had been found suspicious and taken through the GeneXpert technology, with 176 being diagnosed with TB. Eight of them were found to have multiple drug-resistant (MDR) TB, and all were receiving treatment within 24 hours.

“With this money, we are going to be able to do it in all the correctional services facilities in the country,” Motsoaledi said. “Every inmate will have to be screened and those [found to be] suspicious will be taken through GeneXpert. Those with TB will be put on treatment immediately. [We will] also follow their families, who will be visited and also be screened.”

The funding would also enable the Department of Health to de-centralise treatment, with an increasing focus on community-based treatment to ensure that patients were treated in their communities.

From the prisons, Motsoaledi said, the department would move to the country’s minse. Over 100 000 miners in small mines would be screened. Follow-ups will also be done in big mines to check their compliance with TB treatment/prevention programmes.

SA ‘on track’ to meeting targets

During Tuesday’s meeting, it was noted that South Africa was making progress towards achieving the global target set by the United Nations of reducing HIV and Aids by 50% by 2015.

The country has successfully rolled out its ARV treatment programme, with two-million people receiving free treatment, making it the largest treatment programme in the world.

The country is also on course to achieving the target of eliminating mother-to-child HIV transmission by 2015. South Africa’s transmission rate is now at 2.7%, down from 8% in 2008.

Source: SAnews.gov.za