World Aids Day

Speech by Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Hazel Jenkins at the occasion of the World AIDS Day commemoration in Kimberley, Frances Baard District – Northern Cape

We welcome all present here today to keep the candle of hope and compassion burning and keep the promise that we have made that we will defeat HIV and AIDS. Today we celebrate World AIDS Day under the theme: “I am responsible, We are responsible, South-Africa is taking responsibility”.

Today, we are renewing our pledge and commitment as government and civil society to refocus our energy and resources towards the fight against HIV and AIDS. The theme encourages everyone to take personal and collective responsibility to stop new HIV infections, provide care and support to those living with HIV and to ensure access to treatment for all people in need.

Overhauling of the national health system has been identified by government as a key aspect. This will assist government in attaining our health priorities for the next five years. A ten point plan for the health sector has been drawn up and among these priorities is the accelerated implementation of the HIV and AIDS strategic plan, the need to address the co-infection of TB/HIV and to increase governments focus on the high burden of disease.


President Jacob Zuma in his State of the Nation Address stated that: “to improve public healthcare provision, government’s main aims are to boost human resource capacity, revitalize hospitals amd clinics and step up the fight against the scourge of HIV,AIDS, TB and other diseases”.

Ladies and gentlemen, the National Strategic Plan(NSP) for HIV, AIDS and STI’s 2007-2011 forms part of Government’s aim is to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by fifty percent(50%) by the year 2011 and reach eighty percent (80%) of those in need of ARV treatment also by 2011. The NSP is based on four important pillars that allows us to formulate and implement the necessary intervention in our fight against HIV and AIDS - prevention, treatment, care and support, human rights and access to social justice and monitoring, research and surveillance. On 17 November 2009, the Northern Cape Provincial AIDS Council adopted the Provincial Strategic Plan for HIV, AIDS and STI’s to ensure alignment with the NSP.

Government aims, through the NSP and PSP, to strengthen and build on existing relationships with strategic role-players to ensure better coordination in our fight against HIV and AIDS. In addition to our health professionals, especially the nurses who do extraordinary work under challenging conditions in caring for patients suffering from HIV infections and TB, we want to recognize the Home Based Care workers across the province. We, as government want to use this platform to applaud them and encourage them to continue with their good work.


Government, civil society partners, sectors, and communities observed the 11th Anniversary of the Partnership Against AIDS on the 9th October 2009. A pledge was signed during this event, which highlighted each partner’s commitment to the following:

* united, supportive and committed leadership
* effective partnerships
* simple and clear communication
* greater involvement of people living with HIV
* building community competence on HIV and AIDS
* promotion of social change and cohesion to address inequality and poverty

Ladies and gentlemen, on 15 October 2009, government committed itself to accelerating the National Aids response to meeting the targets of the NSP by 2011.This reflects the dawn of a new era in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Responsibility, accountability, action and prevention will be the focus of our approach. Massive change in behavior and attitude targeting especially the youth will be key as well as massive unprecedented Voluntary Counseling and Testing(VCT) aiming to be the biggest in the world.

The Department of Health conducts an annual Antenatal Survey for HIV and AIDS as a methodology to track HIV and Syphilis prevalence in the country. Based on its 2008 sample of 33,488 women attending 1,415 antenatal clinics across all nine provinces, this study estimates that 28% of pregnant women were living with HIV in 2007. The provinces that recorded the highest HIV rates were KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Free State. The Northern Cape and Western Cape recorded the lowest prevalence.

In the Northern Cape, the 2008 provincial HIV prevalence amongst 15-49 antenatal women was16.2% compared to 16.5% in 2007. The prevalence has varied by less than 1% in the past 3 years, and has shown stabilization between 2007 and 2008. Namakwa district has consistently recorded the lowest HIV prevalence (2.2% in 2008) in the whole country. Frances Baard recorded the highest HIV prevalence (21.8%) in the province in 2008. HIV prevalence among age group, 15 – 19 years, has decreased significantly between 2006 and 2008. This is a positive step towards achievement of the strategic goal of the Provincial Strategic Plan for HIV & AIDS, and STI`s (2007 – 2011) of reducing by half new HIV infections by 2011.

The main health challenges we face as a country are TB and HIV/AIDS. TB is one of the major killers in our country. This is despite the fact that TB is curable. It is reported that some people do not want to take their medication. They don’t want to be cured because they want to benefit from the temporary disability grant. However, what they forget is that they may also die as a result of their behaviour.

When we speak about TB it is important that we also speak about HIV and AIDS. We know that there is a close link between HIV and TB. This does not mean that every person who has TB is HIV positive. But if you are HIV positive you are very likely to have TB. However even in this case TB can be cured, it only means that you must take your medication.

The Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission(PMTCT) programme of the Department of Health presents a huge opportunity for us to arrest vertical transmission of HIV from the mother to the baby. We encourage mothers to access the services at the antenatal clinic as well as VCT services provided to ensure we do all we can for the health of the baby and the mother.

The following are the key messages for commemorating World AIDS Day 2009 namely:

* HIV and AIDS Affects all of us
* Do the right thing, know your HIV status
* Wear a Red Ribbon to show you care

It is our responsibility to take care of our health and that of our loved ones. As a province and a country we must take hands in the fight against HIV and AIDS to ensure future generations have the opportunity to live full and healthy lives.

Programme director, we are at present in the midst of celebrating an important international and national campaign namely the 16 Days of Activism: No violence against Women and Children, under the theme: “Halve gender based violence by 2015”.

During this time, the South African Government runs a 16 Days of Activism Campaign to make people aware of the negative impact of violence on women and children and to act against abuse. Government is committed to building a caring and peaceful society that protects its women and children from all forms of violence. The 16 Days of Activism Campaign runs only from 25 November to 10 December every year, but its objectives are reinforced by the year-long 365 Days Programme and a national plan. Every year, government, civil-society organisations and the business sector work together to broaden the impact of the campaign. By supporting this campaign, thousands of South Africans have also helped to increase awareness of abuse and build support for victims and survivors of abuse.

As government, we call on you as a citizen and community member to support the programme by wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period: A white ribbon is a symbol of peace and symbolises the commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children, join the Cyber Dialogues initiative which facilitate online discussions among people about issues related to the abuse of women and children, participate in the various 16 Days of Activism events and activities in your communities, volunteer in support of non-governmental organisations and community groups who support abused women and children, donate money to organisations working to end violence against women and children by making a contribution to the Foundation for Human Rights, speak out against woman and child abuse and join community policing forums (CPFs) or community safety forums (CSFs).

Ladies and gentlemen, we also extend a message of gratitude and encouragement to the members of the Provincial and District AIDS Councils across the province. Thank you for accepting the challenge and the responsibilities and is now your responsibility to ensure that we as a province, deliver on the health service delivery mandate of government in line with the legal and constitutional framework. The whole province has high expectations and I truly hope and anticipate that the whole province also give these councils the necessary support to productively and actively be the vehicle to address HIV and AIDS challenges in the province.

As the Northern Cape Provincial Government we embrace this opportunity to wish all a safe and joyful festive season that is free of violence, crime and road accidents.


In conclusion, we would like to encourage and implore all to support government and civil society programmes and initiatives in our collective fights against HIV, AIDS, TB as well as violence against women and children. The Government is taking responsibility to make sure that everyone tests for HIV, receives counseling, that condoms are available and that all

people have access to treatment for TB and HIV. Let us keep our promise to defeat these diseases in order to create communities that are healthy, positive and productive.


Working together we can do more!


I thank you

Ke aleboga!!

Ndiyabulela!

Baie Dankie!

 

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Kimberley 
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