Health minister excited about year ahead

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has echoed President Jacob Zuma’s call to accelerate the prevention of HIV and Aids, saying that stronger emphasis will be placed on combating the disease.

Delivering the State of the Nation Address, the President said that while the country was doing well with regards to treatment and the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, general prevention efforts must also be accelerated.

During World Aids Day on 1 December 2011, Zuma launched the new National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV and Aids 2012 – 2016, which promised to do much more to tackle TB and issues of violence against women.

The NSP proposes to deal with HIV, sexually transmitted infections and tuberculosis by adopting a holistic approach which includes preventative and therapeutic measures.

The country also adopted the ‘three zeros’ agreed to at the United Nations high level meeting in New York this June as a vision for the next 20 years. In addition, a fourth zero has been added, which aims to eliminate HIV transmission from mother to child.

The four zeros are: zero new HIV and TB infection; zero new infections due to mother-to-child transmission; zero preventable deaths associated with HIV and TB, and zero discrimination associated with HIV and TB.

“We want to move even stronger to combat the disease of HIV and Aids,” said Motsoaledi, speaking to BuaNews after Zuma’s address.

Zuma also touched on the need to reduce the impact of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension.

“Non-communicable diseases are also becoming a very big problem. And I’m very happy because the President announced officially what I had been struggling to tell the population, that they need to live healthy lifestyles.

“We can’t just go for treatment, we need to stop diseases from happening and this year we are going to be passing lots of regulations and laws around alcohol and tobacco advertising, among others. We are going to go all out to make sure that we reduce the harm caused by these diseases,” he said.

Critical social infrastructure projects have also been identified, including projects aimed at laying the basis for the National Health Insurance system such as the refurbishment of hospitals and nurses’ homes.

Motsoaledi said this would be extraordinarily important for a country that will start universal coverage via National Health Insurance. -BuaNews