Opening remarks by Deputy President David Mabuza to the Extended Plenary of the South African National AIDS Council, Rustenburg, North West Province

Premier of the North West Province, Mr Bushy Maape,

Health Minister, Dr. Joe Phaahla

Ministers and Deputy Ministers,

Premiers and MECs,

The SANAC Civil Society Chairperson and Co-Chairperson of Plenary, Ms. Steve Letsike,

The SANAC Private Sector Forum, Ms. Mpumi Zikalala,

SANAC CEO, Dr. Thembisile Xulu,

Esteemed Members of SANAC Plenary,

Distinguished guests, Good morning!

Welcome to today’s sitting of the SANAC Plenary in the province of Bokone Bophirima, under the leadership of the Provincial AIDS Council Chairperson, Premier Bushy Maape, our host for today.  We chose North West as part of ongoing efforts to strengthen the province’s response to HIV, TB and STIs through the Provincial Council on AIDS. 

Earlier this year, during the commemoration of World TB Day in March, we launched the development process of the new National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs for the period 2023 to 2028. We had deferred the conclusion of the current plan by an additional year to implement the National Strategic Plan Catch-Up Plans designed to mitigate against the HIV/TB disruptions caused by the advent of COVID-19.

We are happy to report that SANAC has made significant progress in the process of developing the new National Strategic Plan. Provincial consultations are nearly completed with just one province left, which is the Northern Cape.

The entire Civil Society sector will also be having their National Strategic Plan engagement with each sector having sessions to receive critical sector specific input e.g. the disability sector and other key and vulnerable populations because we cannot leave anyone behind as we move into our last National Strategic Plan towards agenda 2030.

A few targeted consultations have also taken place, with more being planned to take place within the next few weeks. Engagements regarding the National Strategic Plan Provincial Implementation Plans are also underway.

We plan to launch the new National Strategic Plan at the next World TB Day on 24 March 2023. Immediately thereafter, the rolling launches of the National Strategic Plan Provincial Implementation Plans shall ensue. Effective implementation of the National Strategic Plan is largely dependent on proper alignment between national and provincial structures.

When population size adjustments are done, the SA Tuberculosis prevalence report lists South Africa as one of the 30 countries with the highest incidence of TB.

The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation by reversing the gains made in the fight against TB in South Africa and around the world. However, the country has made a conscious effort to begin rebuilding, confront the status quo, and intensify TB interventions.

SANAC coordinated and supported the development of the multi-sectoral TB Recovery Plan, which includes the TB Catch-Up plans and also the development of the TB Multi-sectoral Accountability Framework supported by the World Health Organisation. Both are roadmaps to ensure a collective response to TB and steer SA towards winning the battle against TB.

SANAC will continue to rally behind government’s efforts to lobby for shorter and more cost-effective TB prevention and Treatment regimens that are key for successful adherence. Affordability of medicines continues to impact access and pharmaceutical companies need to partner with government to improve access not only to prevention regimens but also to medicines for treating multidrug resistant TB.

What also remains paramount in our response, is the strengthening of access to psychosocial, nutritional, and socio-economic support to ensure successful TB treatment completion.

The ongoing advocacy efforts led by civil society for the rollout of TB preventive therapy among the high-risk groups, is central to our continued efforts to address TB related challenges. Currently, the well-performing preventive therapy regimen, is mostly available in Global Fund supported districts and we need to upscale this, to ensure that it is accessible across the country. 

When it comes to HIV, the country continues to experience high rates of new HIV infection among the youth. We therefore welcome the newly launched National Youth HIV Prevention Strategy and Campaign dubbed “Zikhala Kanjani”, which was launched in Limpopo during the Youth Month under the leadership of the Department of Health’s youth champion, Deputy Minister Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

The usage of the Nguni colloquial term “Zikhala Kanjani”, is a positive step toward ensuring that the youth are reached with efficient and focused activities that speak to them.

In order to reach young people, it will be employed to spread messages about prevention, treatment adherence, substance abuse, mental health, teenage and child pregnancies, youth unemployment, gender-based violence and femicide, to name just a few.

As we conclude, this plenary is taking place on the foothills of the 24th International AIDS Conference in Montreal, Canada that is scheduled for the end of this month. This is the biggest conference in the world on any health matter. SANAC has been coordinating the participation of the country’s team as well as the erection of one Team South Africa Exhibition Stand.

The conference will provide an opportunity for South Africa to showcase our resilience towards the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the milestones we have achieved in our quest to eliminate HIV and TB as public health threats by 2030.

May those of us who will participate at the conference, be focused and make meaningful inputs to take our work forward. May they equally enjoy fruitful engagements in Montreal and return with renewed vigour to plough back into our efforts against HIV, TB and STIs.

Thank you.

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa

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