UK boost for new anti-Aids drive

2 December 2008

South Africa’s revitalised drive against HIV/Aids has received a £15-million (around R230-million) boost from the British government.

Britain’s international development minister, Ivan Lewis, travelled to Johannesburg ahead of World Aids Day to offer South Africa’s new health minister, Barbara Hogan, direct UK support as the country embarks on a new drive to tackle the HIV epidemic.

President Kgalema Motlanthe’s recent appointment of Hogan as health minister “has signalled a significant change in direction” in South Africa’s fight against HIV and Aids”, Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) said in a statement on Saturday.

“For too long, South Africa has been fighting Aids with its hands tied behind its back,” Lewis said in the statement. “Barbara Hogan has set a bold and exciting vision on HIV and Aids, and that is why the UK is fully committed to working with her as she embarks on this new approach.”

According to the DFID, the UK support plan will help South Africa to improve health services, deliver more protection for mothers and babies, and roll out a new national HIV/Aids awareness campaign.

“Medical staff and managers will be helped to improve the quality of advice and service to patients, and staff morale improved through stronger incentives for quality care,” the DFID said.

South Africa will also be increasing the availability of free tests for mothers during pregnancy, and of anti-HIV drugs for pregnant mothers and children, specifically targeting isolated and rural areas. “It is estimated that over 45 000 lives could be saved every year,” the DFID said.

At the same time, a new campaign – “Small Acts, Many People, Big Change: We shall overcome” – will see information on safe-sex and HIV health issues being sent out via radio, newspaper, text messages and street posters. “The multi-media campaign is expected to reach 9 in 10 South Africans – over 43-million people.”

SAinfo reporter

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