Handbook to help local govt respond to HIV, AIDS

Friday, April 3, 2009

Durban - A handbook has been developed to facilitate governance and development responses to HIV and AIDS.

It provides step by step guidance to local government practitioners on how HIV and AIDS can be integrated into development local governance by using existing municipal processes.

The book will be given to Integrated Development Planning (IDP) managers and HIV and AIDS coordinators at municipalities to use as an implementation tool for the roll out of the national government's framework for an integrated response to the disease.

The IDP managers will then be expected to conduct training in the municipality.

Minister of Provincial and Local Government Sicelo Shiceka, launching the handbook on Thursday, said there was a need to tackle the HIV and AIDS epidemic at local level.

"The mainstreaming of HIV and AIDS into local government and governance can significantly enhance the national effort to halt the spread of the disease and mitigate the impacts of pandemic on individuals and communities," Minister Shiceka said.

The book also builds on the National Strategic Plan 2007 - 2011 framework and complements other HIV and AIDS strategies on HIV and AIDS for local government, said the minister.

It was developed by the department in partnership with South African Local Government Association, Medical Research Council, GTZ and INCA Capacity Building Fund.

Director for INCA Capacity Building Fund Noel Jelliman said: "We have allocated R1.5 million to the project and want to encourage the municipalities to use it. It is a valuable toolkit to be taken on board and used to fight the epidemic."

South African National AIDS Council Deputy Chairperson Mark Heywood said the handbook was an extremely important tool in arming the municipalities towards the fight against AIDS.

"What we need to understand is that people don't get HIV on national level space but get sick and services at local government," Mr Heywood said.

He said it was also important to make sure that the handbook did not become just another pretty book kept on the shelf.

"When we come back for the next AIDS conference in the next two years, we want to remember and say that the launch of this book in April this year, was a turning point to the fight against HIV and AIDS," Mr Heywood said.