On 30 March, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) member and world renowned musician Annie Lennox visited TAC’s Khayelitsha office to film the activities of TAC’s prevention and treatment literacy programme.
Lennox is the founder of the ‘SING Campaign’, which raises money for programmes that support women and children that have been affected by HIV. The ‘SING campaign’ is a funder of TAC’s Eastern Cape prevention and treatment literacy programme.
MSF, TAC, City of Cape Town, and Western Cape Province Department of Health show decentralised integrated TB/HIV care results in improved outcomes. Full TB/HIV integration must become a national reality now. On April 1st, the South African Department of Health will begin implementing the new antiretroviral (ARV) guidelines as outlined in President Jacob Zuma’s 2009 World AIDS Day speech. A scale-up of this immensity will require the implementation of many of the lessons learnt in Khayelitsha, including task-shifting to nurse-led initiation of ARVs, full TB/HIV integration, and adherence clubs for patients on long-term ARV treatment.
South Africa is facing a shortage of healthcare workers in the public sector and it is necessary to attract and retain healthcare workers to strengthen healthcare delivery and to meet the targets for the treatment, prevention and care of HIV and TB. Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) is an important step to improving conditions and pay and establishing career paths in the public sector. The Department of Health has already announced that new OSD packages for medical practitioners, pharmacists and some emergency personnel will be implemented from 1 April 2010.
The issue with OSD is that it was not properly costed before it was implemented and the unexpected costs have destabilized other healthcare services including the rollout of antiretroviral therapy.
Congratulations to our leaders, Vuyiseka Dubula and Nonkosi Khumalo, for receiving the 2010 John M. Lloyd AIDS Leadership Award.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) strongly condemns homophobia in all its forms. TAC is concerned about the inhuman and homophobic legislation being proposed in Uganda and a wider crackdown against gays and lesbians in other African countries. TAC demands the decriminalisation of all consensual sex between adults irrespective of sexual orientation.
Vuyiseka Dubula-Majola, TAC General Secretary
Thembilihle Dlamini-Ngcoya, TAC Acting Deputy General Secretary
Nonkosi Khumalo, TAC Chairperson
TAC is concerned about the lack of human and financial resources to meet universal access targets and the international trend away from funding HIV/AIDS programmes. Over the next two weeks TAC’s female leadership will be involved in a number of international activities to ensure that meeting universal access targets remain a global priority.
The Budget and Expenditure Monitoring Forum (BEMF), which draws together individuals and organisations from civil society, academia, government, organised labour and business, focuses attention on ensuring that sufficient money is budgeted for and appropriately spent on meeting the treatment and prevention targets of the national HIV & AIDS and STI Strategic Plan for South Africa 2007-2011 (NSP) as well as for health more broadly. BEMF held its first meeting on 21 August 2009.
BEMF’s second meeting, which was held in Johannesburg on 5 February 2010, drew together over 40 people from 19 organisations, including legal experts, clinicians, economists, government officials, epidemiologists and trade union and civil society activists. The agenda focused on the upcoming antiretroviral (ARV) drug tender and the need to ensure that it is structured and run in a manner that enables the state to procure an adequate supply of appropriate medicines at the lowest possible prices.
By Vuyiseka Dubula, General Secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign
President Zuma’s leadership on AIDS needs some constructive scrutiny. However, we do not want to impose moral judgements on people, especially on their private matters. Many of the responses to the President's actions have been hysterical and self-righteous. But the President is not just any person. People look to him to set an example. In a country without a serious HIV epidemic, it might be arguable that his extra-marital affairs are for him and his family alone to resolve. But South Africa has the world's largest HIV epidemic. The President holds the highest office in South Africa and therefore there are high expectations of him, as a leader, as an elder and as a role model.
HIV, TB and Malaria continue to be the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in Sub-Saharan Africa. The region remains home to 62% of global HIV infections and 72% of global AIDS mortality - mainly amongst women and children. It is estimated that there are 33.4 million people living with HIV. Most of them continue to face illness and death if they are unable to access treatment.
South Africa remains the epicenter of the epidemic. The country has 28% of the global population of people with dual HIV/TB. South Africa has a maturing HIV epidemic, mainly driven by heterosexual sex, multiple concurrent sexual partnerships, intergenerational sex and mother to child (vertical) transmission. HIV prevention strategies are not succeeding in cutting the number of new HIV infections – largely because they are unfocused, lack resources, and lack full and ongoing political commitment.
In South Africa and across Sub-Saharan Africa there are visible signs that we will not meet the targets of achieving universal access to treatment by the end of 2010. Universal access targets were agreed to by G8 members and, subsequently, heads of states and governments at the 2005 UN World Summit. The main reason why we are not meeting the targets is due to a lack of committed national and international leadership to prevent and treat HIV.
TAC believes that civil society must remain vigilant and monitor the implementation of HIV/AIDS plans across the region.