SA ratchets up ARV rollout

9 May 2007

South Africa had almost doubled the number of people receiving anti-retroviral therapy from the public health sector between March and December 2006.

According to Social Services Minister Zola Skweyiya, a total of 239 244 were receiving therapy by December last year, up from 134 473 in March the same year.

This is in addition to an estimated 80 000 people who are receiving anti-retroviral therapy from private sector health outlets.

Briefing reporters on progress made by departments in government’s social cluster on Tuesday, Skweyiya said in the 2006/07 financial year, 425-million condoms were distributed.

At the same time, 4 189 voluntary counselling sites had been set up for people infected with HIV by the end of March this year.

By the end of February this year, 493 000 patients were receiving nutritional support to strengthen their immune systems against the onset of Aids, while, by the end of March this year, 320 facilities had been accredited as government treatment centres.

This figure includes nine accredited centres in prisons and seven at centres run by the South African National Defence Force.

By the end of December last year, 14 269 healthcare workers were trained in the government’s comprehensive HIV/Aids care, management and treatment programme.

Also in the briefing, Skweyiya indicated that the newly reconstituted South African National AIDS Council, (SANAC), chaired by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, would be playing a central role in the fight against HIV/Aids.

SANAC, which brings together almost all stakeholders – from government and civil society – to combat HIV/Aids, has already adopted government’s new national strategic plan for HIV/Aids, which stretches across five years, from 2007 to 2011.

Under this new plan, the target is to achieve a 50% reduction of new infections by 2011 and provide appropriate treatment, care and support services, with government budgeting billions of rand to treat those infected.

Speaking to reporters at the same briefing, the Department of Health’s director-general Thami Mseleku said more opportunities were being sought within the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) to provide work for people involved in home- and community-based care.

Already, 89 000 people had been provided with work from EPWP programmes, which were aiming to provide 150 000 “work opportunities” by the end of this year, Mseleku said.

In the 2007 Budget presented in February this year, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel announced an additional R1.65-billion for comprehensive treatment.

By the 2009/10 financial year, spending on dedicated HIV/Aids programmes by various government departments is expected to exceed R5-billion a year.

Source: BuaNews