Govt, Virgin Group to establish Disease Control Hub

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma and Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of the Virgin Group, have agreed to establish a Disease Control Hub in South Africa.

The establishment of the centre was discussed at a meeting between Mr Zuma, Sir Branson, Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi as well as Minister in the Presidency for National Planning, Trevor Manuel, at the Union Buildings on Wednesday.

The hub will prioritise diseases such as HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB), Diabetes and other emergent health priorities in South Africa and regionally. It will also ensure that existing initiatives can be better integrated and supported.

It will be established through a partnership between Virgin Unite, a non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group and the Department of Health.

President Zuma said health was a key priority for government and that the hub would help strengthen the country's health system.

He praised Sir Branson for his willingness to contribute to the improvement of the country's disease control response and welcomed the initiative that Virgin Unite had taken in this regard.

Sir Branson said the hub was a critical initiative to help stop needless suffering from diseases such as TB, HIV and AIDS, and other health conditions that have killed large numbers of people and hampered the growth of this country.

"By delivering better data and helping to scale responses more quickly, this initiative will play an important role in transforming the health sector in South Africa.

"We are pleased to be working closely with the South African Government and would like to call out to other business leaders, foundations and international bodies to join us in this partnership that will ultimately help save millions of lives," he said.

According to the department, it will only be made known later when the hub will be operational.