The government is achieving its targets in the fight against HIV/Aids, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.
South Africa started the early decades of HIV and Aids "on a wrong footing", he told the National Assembly during debate on his budget vote.
"But recently, in a typical South African style, we have bounced back. We have shown that collaboration and solidarity against a shared threat and a common goal is desirable and can produce desired results," Motsoaledi said.
Through combined efforts and collaborative undertaking, a campaign had been launched to counsel and tests 15 million South Africans for HIV.
Number of nurses increased
"We have achieved this and even exceeded this target as today more than 20 million South Africans know their status."
Through this programme, 1.6 million South Africans had been counselled and placed on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment.
This had been achieved by increasing the number of ARV sites from 490 in February 2010 to 3,000 in April 2012.
"We have increased the number of nurses certified to initiate ARV treatment from 250 in February 2010 to 10,000 in April 2012," he said.
Transmission of HIV from mother to child had been reduced from 8% in 2008 to 3.5% in 2011 – in KwaZulu-Natal it had been brought down to 2.5% – which was a reduction of over 50%.
TB and Aids plan integrated
"In order not to be complacent, we have unveiled a new national strategic plan (NSP) [for] HIV/Aids and TB [tuberculosis] for the period 2012 to 2016.
"For the first time in our history we have integrated HIV and Aids and TB in the same strategic plan. This new plan outlines a 20 year vision of the country in the fight against the double scourges of HIV/Aids and TB."
On the health facility audit in preparation for the national health insurance (NHI) scheme, Motsoaledi said it was now 90% complete.
It entailed sending teams to all the 4,200 public health facilities to audit infrastructure, human resources, cleanliness, and attitude of staff, safety of staff and patients, infection control, drug stock outs, and the long queues which citizens had to endure when visiting facilities.
Health facility improvements
"Since we are at 90% towards completion of the audit, we thought we fully comprehended the nature and extent of the problems.
"Hence, we have put up four health facility improvement teams to go into the facilities to work with the provincial management to correct all the abnormalities and findings identified during the audits."
The teams had already started working in Motheo District in the Free State, Sedibeng in Gauteng, Zululand in KwaZulu-Natal, and Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape.
NHI not unique to SA
Motsoaledi said there was no way the efficiency and effectiveness of the healthcare system could ever be realised without dealing with the cost of healthcare and healthcare financing.
"There are people who wrongly believe that the concept of healthcare financing, as envisaged in NHI, is a pipe dream concocted by ANC. I wish to advise them that NHI is not a unique South African concept."
The World Health Organisation (WHO) was actively promoting this concept and described it as universal health coverage, he said.
(Sapa, April 2012)
NHI: Key details