World AIDS Day 2016: Provincial public healthcare system still in crisis

TAC to host night vigil and World AIDS Day march

HIV and TB remain crises in South Africa. Every year there are approximately 280 000 new HIV infections and 140 000 HIV-related deaths in the country.

To turn the tide on HIV and TB we need all government departments and all provinces to take this crisis seriously. With the exception of a few dedicated individuals including Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, HIV and TB is however not a priority for our national and provincial governments.

The public healthcare system in many of our provinces remain in crisis with little hope in sight. Our members experience this crisis first-hand across seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. The crisis was also made clear last week in newly published records from the Office of Health Standards and Compliance. It is concerning that these damning records were only made public after a PAIA request from a newspaper.

We are worried that civil society is being taken less and less seriously by those in government. This is clear from the fact that demands we made to Deputy President and Head of SANAC Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Motsoaledi at the International AIDS Conference in July have not been responded to.  At the end of our march on World AIDS Day we will give these two leaders a memorandum. In it we will give them one week to respond to the demands we made of them in July. The particular demands from July are as follows:

To Deputy President Ramaphosa:

“We demand that the Presidency announce concrete and immediate steps to ensure that all young people in South Africa have easy access to condoms and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education in schools. Failure to do this will make a mockery of government’s efforts to reduce infection rates in young women and girls.”

To Minister Motsoaledi:

(a) We demand that before World AIDS Day 2016 the Minister, working with the SA National AIDS Council, Treasury and civil society, develop a costed National Strategic Plan to ensure all people living with HIV in South Africa have access to antiretroviral treatment by 2020. This plan must identify and make provision for the health workers and management systems needed to ensure treatment for all.”

(b) We demand that before World AIDS Day 2016, the Minister publishes a finalised policy regulating the employment of Community Health Workers across all provinces in South Africa under fair, dignified and unionised working conditions. In addition to repeating these demands, we will also ask Gauteng Premier David Makhura to dismiss Gauteng MEC for Health Qedani Mahlangu for her role in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. At least 36 people (possibly over 70) with mental health problems died after being moved from the Life Esidimeni facility. This happened after MEC Mahlangu was warned that moving these people would place their lives at risk. Such disregard for the lives of people with mental health problems is unacceptable in a MEC for Health.

Important political context

South Africa is currently facing a severe political crisis relating to corruption, state capture and the credibility of President Jacob Zuma. We have previously released media statements relating to this crisis. We have publically endorsed Save South Africa. The battle against state capture and corruption is also the battle for quality healthcare for all. It has become clear to us in recent years that corruption and state capture at national level, but especially at provincial level, is undermining the Minister, and our, efforts to build a public healthcare system that can provide quality treatment and care to all.

We recognise that Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi has taken a courageous and principled stance against corruption and state capture. We applaud him for this. We unequivocally support Dr Motsoaledi remaining South Africa’s Minister of Health.

Night vigil and march

We invite all media and interested members of the public to attend our night vigil on November 30 and our World AIDS Day march on December 1st.

Details of night vigil:

  • Why are we having a night vigil: We are affording an opportunity to all TAC branch members and the public, whose lives and health depend on the public health care system to come forward and give testimony on how the system is  failing or serving them. TAC members are public health care users who are often failed by the public health care system therefore we want them to share their stories and be able to shape TAC’s agenda in response to HIV/Aids in the country,  more especially in Gauteng province. There will also be Community Health Care Workers who will be giving testimonies on how the system is failing them as CHW’s as well as the public
  • When:  November 30 from 21:00 until next morning
  • Where:  Madingoane Primary School, Barwa Street, Daveyton

Details of World AIDS Day march:

  • When: 07:00 on December 1, 2016
  • Where: From Madingoane Primary School, Barwa Street, Daveyton to Sinaba Stadium, Daveyton (where national WAD event is being held)

Why are we marching?

We will hand a memorandum to Deputy President Ramaphosa and Premier Makhura. In it we will demand the following:

  • A detailed and costed plan to ensure everyone with HIV have access to treatment
  • Access to comprehensive sex education and condoms in all schools
  • A finalised national policy and plan for employing at least 200 000 community healthcare workers
  • The dismissal of MEC Mahlangu for her role in the Life Esidimeni tragedy.

For media comment contact Mary-Jane Matsolo on 079 8022 686

Read memorandum 

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