More money for HIV/AIDS treatment

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Cape Town - Government will be stepping up the fight against HIV and AIDS with the announcement of a further R3 billion towards its national prevention and treatment programme.

In October last year, R5.4 billion was set aside to enable more people to access treatment and improve the effectiveness of treatment programmes in public hospitals.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his Budget Speech on Wednesday that the additional R3 billion will broaden access to those infected with TB and women and children with CD 4 counts lower than 350.

Presently, about 920 000 people are on anti-retroviral treatment and the budget provides for the number to be increased to 2.1 million in the 2012/13 financial year. The total spending on the health system is projected to be at R105 billion for the next financial year.

Gordhan said real growth in public spending over the next three years is expected to be about 2 percent a year over the next three years. This is lower than the rapid growth in public spending over the past three years but still provides for substantial increases in key spending programmes.

He said government will continue to broaden the use of public-private partnerships in the health sector, in particular to improve the country's health system. Partnership programmes are on the cards for hospitals like Chris Hani Baragwanath, the new George Mkhari and Polokwane Academic.

"Alongside longer term reforms to the financing of health care systems is a prerequisite for the introduction of the National Health Insurance system," Gordhan said.

The Ministry of Health has established an advisory committee on the NHI system. Work is underway to identify measures that will enable a feasible transition to an NHI model over the next five years.

These include improving public health funding, decentralising financial management to hospitals and local health districts and improving public health management.

Provinces are set to increase their spending by 7.2 percent per year to more than R107 billion by 2012/13. This will follow the projected growth of 18 percent in the 2009/10 period.