SA secures funding to fight HIV

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Pretoria - South Africa has secured an additional $108 million from the Global Fund to finance its HIV prevention projects over the next five years.

Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, who is Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), said the funding had come at the right time given the current fiscal environment.

The funding was made available after South Africa's application to the Global Fund under the Round 9 submission entitled "Leveraging partnerships to achieve the objectives of the National Strategic Plan".

Motlanthe said a SANAC Plenary, held on Wednesday, also noted that a regional meeting of the Global Fund would be held in Malawi next month. SANAC will be sending delegates to this meeting aimed at giving stakeholders better understanding of how the Global Fund operates.

"This is very important for us as we try to mobilise additional resources for our response to the epidemic," said Motlanthe.

The plenary was also briefed on the preliminary findings of the midterm review of the National Strategic Plan (NSP).

"This review took place alongside a United Nations led review of the health sector's HIV programme as well as an analysis of our state of readiness to conduct mass counseling and testing".

Motlanthe said the review focused on progress towards achieving the key objectives of the NSP as well as the institutional arrangements at national, provincial and local levels to implement the NSP. "We acknowledge that the review team had a short timeframe to conduct the review and that a bit more work needs to be done to finalise the report," he said.

It found that while levels of knowledge about HIV are high, behavior change remained a challenge. "Condom use has increased but we need to increase the consistent use of condoms significantly".

Regarding treatment, Motlanthe said more than 700 000 patients were receiving treatment but that the figure represented only 50 percent of those who need to be treated.

The review found that the health system needs to be strengthened to ensure increased access to care and for services to be integrated with within the public health sector and between the public and private health sectors.

"We really need to ensure that we mobilize and align all our resources to meet our targets. There are also challenges with regard to information about the epidemic. We collect lots of data but do not use the information intelligently to monitor progress," added Motlanthe.

Meanwhile, it is all system ahead of the annual commemoration of World Aids Day on 1 December. The main event is expected to be held at the Pretoria Show Grounds under the theme 'iBambeni - Take Responsibility'.