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Health Minister and UNAIDS Executive Director visit TAC Khayelitsha, impressed by Khayelitsha health model

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Minister of Health Barbara Hogan and incoming UNAIDS Executive Director Michel Sidibé paid a visit this week to TAC and MSF in Khayelitsha. Minister Hogan was highly impressed by her visit and has promised to look into Khayelitsha’s successful health model, used to fight against HIV/AIDS, and see if it can be transplanted into other struggling health districts countrywide.

She said the community had shown the world that proper partnerships, patient adherence and treatment literacy were not rhetoric, but could help the government to improve health delivery systems.

She was speaking during the visit of the newly appointed UNAIDS Executive Director, Michel Sidibé, at the township’s first ARV clinic, Ubuntu Clinic.

Hogan said the success rates of the TB programme, which had a cure rate of 74%, and the mother-to child HIV transmission prevention programme, with a transmission rate of 3,5%, as well as the integration of services that saw at least 95% of TB patients taking HIV tests, was impressive.

Hogan had promised that through the ambitious National Strategic Plan on HIV/AIDS, with its target to reduce infection by  50% in 2011, the government would have to work tirelessly in the next few years to save lives. She remained particularly concerned about the thousands of South Africans, including children, who were in need of ARV treatment due to a shortage of funds and she also promised to take urgent steps towards normalising the Free State and other provincial health departments. Her department was already speaking to donors abroad on how they could assist with additional funding to fight HIV/AIDS.

Sidibé said for many countries to achieve their universal access targets for 2010, an estimated investment of  $25 billion dollars each year would be required as from next year. This would mean that an additional $11 billion would have to be made available. He said such funds could be raised through domestic funding, stimulus packages and economic adjustments, made with real people in mind.

Sub-Saharan Africa remained the region most heavily affected by HIV worldwide.

With the $25 billion, Sidibé said the world could:

  • avoid 2.6 million new HIV infections, cutting HIV incidence by nearly 50%;
  • avert 1.3 million deaths by the next two years could years;
  • 6.7 million people would receive anti-retroviral treatment; and
  • 7 million orphans and vulnerable children would be supported by social support programmes.