Extra R1.5bn to combat HIV/Aids

27 October 2010

South Africa is to spend an extra R1.5-billion on HIV/Aids prevention programmes over the next three years, says Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. R100-million of this will be spent this year, bringing the total HIV/Aids and sexually transmitted diseases budget for 2010/11 to R6.6-billion.

Presenting his medium-term budget policy statement to Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday, Gordhan said the state’s free antiretroviral programmes was adding around 300 000 new entrants each year, and that this was expected to increase to 400 000 new entrants a year over the next three years.

Of the R100-million to be spent this year, Gordhan said R40-million would be allocated to provinces’ male circumcision programmes.

According to the World Health Organisation, there is compelling evidence that male circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexually-acquired HIV infection in men by up to 60 percent.

The medium-term budget policy statement said data from the department of health’s 2009 antenatal survey showed that South Africa’s HIV infection rate was levelling off.

“HIV prevention and treatment programmes are expanding rapidly and will continue to be prioritised,” it said.

National Health Insurance

In the general health sector, Gordhan said the government had prioritised funds to filling important posts, including medical registrars in obstetrics and paediatrics, and to recapitalising the country’s nursing colleges.

In preparation for South Africa’s new National Health Insurance scheme, the government has proposed amendments to improve the fairness of the tax treatment of medical aid contributions.

Gordhan said further work would be done to calculate the costing of the National Health Insurance, adding that until more calculations were made, there would not be any move to raise taxes to fund the new health insurance system.

He said the government was considering piloting improved family health care as part of an enhanced primary care system, including district-based contracts with independent general practitioners.

It is also considering making bulk purchases of medicines to bring down the general cost of buying medication.

Also under consideration is a proposal to get private hospitals and academic institutions to partner with one another to train doctors and nurses, as well as another to help bring private-sector management into the delivery of public health care in the country.

SAinfo reporter and BuaNews