There are currently 2,4 million people in South Africa on ARVs, and this makes up 30% of the 8 million people worldwide on ARVs, according to SA’s Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.
He was speaking at the launch of ‘ILIMA Flagship Partnership Project’, an initiative of the EOF (Equal Opportunities Foundation) and the Oasis Crescent Fund Trust. The project, for which R2 million was donated, is aimed at developing five rural communities, with the building of four Early Childhood Development Centres and a centre focusing on HIV/Aids support.
“The two biggest challenges we have in South Africa are the development of human capital and the battle with HIV/Aids,” said Dr Motsoaledi. “Aids is the biggest health challenge we have ever faced and it has changed SA.”
He went on to say that we have lost the battle against maternal mortality largely as a result of HIV/Aids, and that life expectancy in SA is now what it was in 1955 – effectively putting us 60 years back.
Some of the other facts he mentioned included:
- Forty-nine percent of women who die in childbirth and pregnancy are HIV-positive.
- Thirty-five percent of children who die under the age of five are HIV-positive.
- In 2004, there were 400 000 people on ARVs in SA and now there are 2,4 million.
- The high numbers of people receiving ARVs once a month are contributing to the lengthy waiting times at government clinics.
- It is hoped to have 4,6 million South Africans on ARVs by the year 2016.
- The battle against TB will not be won unless the battle against HIV/Aids is won, as TB kills 90 of HIV-positive people who die.
- Twenty million people in SA have been tested for HIV.
In response to a question by Health24, he commented that the electronic media/cellphones can play a huge role in educating and assisting pregnant women.
A project aimed at providing information by cellphone to the one million women in SA who are pregnant at any time is to be launched by the Department of Health in April 2014. Most South Africans, even in poor and rural isolated communities, have cellphones and the department plans to utilise this to disseminate information on pregnancy and HIV/Aids.
He concluded by saying that since South Africa carries the highest burden of HIV/Aids, the solution for this scourge should also come from within our shores. He reiterated the importance of medical research in this regard.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, March 2014)
Read more: HIV/Aids Centre