SOUTH AFRICA: Hogan closes clear-the-air conference

Photo: South African Government
Barbara Hogan
durban, 3 April 2009 (PlusNews) - Health Minister Barbara Hogan closed the 4th South African AIDS Conference in Durban on Friday by addressing some of the concerns raised about the cost and feasibility of scaling up South Africa's HIV/AIDS treatment programme to meet the enormous need.

Hogan reaffirmed the government's commitment to implementing the National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS, which aims to have 80 percent of those in need of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment on the drugs by 2011.

She highlighted the need to go beyond asking how many people are on treatment, to other crucial questions such as how many are staying on treatment, how long waiting lists are, and how we can reduce the costs of drugs and laboratory tests, because "Without this information we cannot plan properly."

In the context of the current global financial crisis and a number of provinces overspending their budgets in the past year, Hogan called for HIV and AIDS resources to be spent more efficiently.

She told delegates that the health department would be sending teams of financial experts to each of the country's nine provinces during the course of the year to find the reasons for overspending.

"We cannot afford any stock-outs of ARVs," she said, referring to last year's crisis in Free State Province. "Whilst we may say ARV treatment is expensive, we have no other option; any other option would be far more expensive."

Hogan called on international donors to start making longer-term commitments, and to coordinate their assistance with other donors.

Referring a session on the collapse of Zimbabwe's health system, Hogan also emphasised the need for more cross-border health policies, in particular to address drug-resistant TB.

She urged employers of migrant workers, especially mining companies, to start investing in better TB prevention and treatment, and in cross-border referral systems for TB and HIV.

"It would be foolish to think we can scale up in isolation from our neighbours," she said. "Health knows no borders."


Theme (s): Aid Policy, Care/Treatment - PlusNews, HIV/AIDS (PlusNews), Prevention - PlusNews, PWAs/ASOs - PlusNews,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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