Doctors urged to stay in province and fight HIV, Aids

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Sydney Masinga

Groblersdal - Doctors and nurses in Limpopo have been urged to stay in the province to help the provincial government in the fight against HIV and Aids.

Addressing delegates at a World Aids Day event in Ga-Malope village near Groblersdal on Wednesday, provincial Education MEC Dickson Masemola, who spoke on behalf of Premier Cassel Mathale, said the province needed more medical practitioners to improve health care, especially the treatment of HIV and Aids.

"We should not only produce doctors and nurses, but we must produce patriotic doctors and nurses who are prepared and ready to work in the rural areas of the province," he said. "We urge our health workers to stay and help us fight this dreaded disease."

He acknowledged that government had a responsibility to create a conducive environment for medical practitioners to work in and to do everything possible to retain them in the province, and South Africa.

"We need to encourage and urge them to remain committed and loyal to the people of South Africa by resisting temptations that may lead them to leaving the country," he said.

Masemola said a lack of personnel was restricting the expansion of the province's antiretroviral treatment (ART) programme.

"The process of training nurses to aid in this regard is continuing and we are convinced that this intervention will produce positive results," he said.

He said more than 77 000 people were presently on ARV treatment in the province and that the survival rate for those receiving treatment was more than 80 percent.

Masemola said HIV antenatal surveys in Limpopo indicated a consistent prevalence rate of 20 percent to 21 percent, which was the third lowest in the country. The new infections rate had declined from 1.1 percent in 2008 to 1.0 percent in 2009, he said.

The prevalence of HIV had dropped among sexually active people younger than 24, but increased among those between the ages of 30 and 34.

Masemola thanked all doctors and nurses who continued to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people of Limpopo.

"These doctors always travel the extra distance to save the lives of our people. In most instances, these courageous South Africans put their lives in danger in order to save other people's lives," Masemola said.