Our Host and Premier of Limpopo Province, Mr Stan Mathabatha,
The Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,
Minister of Higher Education and Training, Ms Naledi Pandor,
Deputy Ministers, MECs, Premiers, and Mayors present,
Deputy Chair of SANAC, Ms Steve Letsike,
Leaders of the SANAC Sectors in our midst,
Good morning and a warm welcome to this plenary of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC).
We are gathered inspired by the call that our bold and combined actions must count to end the pandemics of AIDS and TB.
We meet in a province that is synonymous with courageous and united action in the course of improving the lives and wellbeing of our people.
But we sadly meet at a time when the people of this province and our nation, are mourning and preparing to return to the soil the mortal remains of one of the finest daughters of this province whose life was defined by compassion and the truism of lending a hand to life.
And so, may we all rise and observe a moment of silence to honour the memory of our departed sister and outstanding leader, Mme Joyce Mashamba who dedicated her life to freedom and the vision of a united, non-racial, non-sexist, equal and prosperous society.
Until her last days, she fought to restore the dignity of our people and the defeat of poverty, unemployment, inequality and disease.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In my capacity as Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC), I wish to convey my gratitude to all of you for the critical work you have been doing in building much-needed networks to ensure that our beloved country is counted as one of the leading and visionary countries in the fight against HIV, TB and STIs globally.
Through your patriotism, vigour and commitment, our fight against HIV, TB and STIs has resulted in the slowing down of these epidemics although, not at a pace that we aspire to.
And congratulations to SANAC and all our social partners for recently hosting a successful TB Conference in Durban. At that conference, we agreed to act urgently, decisively and collaboratively in ensuring that no one is left behind from being cured of TB infection.
By working together and relentlessly to implement our National Strategic Plan, South Africans will be healthier; they will live longer and they stand a better chance to accelerate the development of our country.
And we remain hopeful and encouraged by the recent passing of the National Health Insurance Bill. This marks a turning point and a break from a past defined by a wasteful, inequitable, and unsustainable health provision system for our developing nation.
As we move ahead to ensure that the health rights of all South Africans are protected, we know that SANAC will again play a pivotal role in mobilizing all South Africans behind the vision of quality health provision for all.
As you would know, our National Strategic Plan 2017-2022 is closely aligned and guided by the National Development Plan.
It locates our coordinated response to HIV, TB and STIs within the broader response to economic and social development.
Unlike yesterday, today we know better that these diseases are not only a biomedical challenge but also a function and outcome of the quality of life that people live.
Therefore, these illnesses cannot be divorced from our struggle against poverty, inequality and unemployment.
The efforts against these ills are mutually reinforcing as progress in reducing the burden of disease contributes to development, while faster development improves our ability to address the social and structural drivers of HIV, TB and STIs.
As part of the Global community and signatory to the Sustainable Development Goals our Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who is also our Global Ambassador on HIV, TB and STIs, will today provide us with latest international developments on the HIV and TB pandemics and how our country features in these.
We look forward to this presentation by Minister Motsoaledi who will also provide us with more details on the upcoming United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) on TB scheduled for September in New York.
As a country, we must work together to take a united message of all the partners of SANAC.
By speaking as a united voice, we will effectively communicate to the world our multi-sectoral response in the fight against TB.
This will augur well for our nation and health sector, especially since our Minister is the incumbent Chairperson of the Board of the Global Stop TB Partnership, and this gathering of world leaders is the brainchild of this body.
Once again, we thank you Minister Motsoaledi for your leadership, for always raising our flag high, and for your unrelenting activism for the health rights of all people, especially those from the developing world.
We are also very pleased that Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu is with us to represent SANAC’s critical ally, the Department of Social Development.
We look forward to the Deputy Minister’s update on the implementation of the National Strategic Plan in so far as it relates to the social and structural drivers of HIV, TB and STIs.
We thank the Department of Social Development and other departments for assuming much-needed leadership within our multi-sectoral approach to ensure that resources are continuously mobilised to fight hunger, unemployment, and underdevelopment since these conditions fuel the spread and burden of diseases.
During the World TB Day Commemoration in March, I called on all Premiers to finalise their provincial implementation plans and to move forward with speed in execution towards achieving the goals and targets of the National Strategic Plan.
Today, we will receive a report on the completion and implementation of these plans, supported with complete and multi-sectoral district implementation plans.
As we all know, a major factor in successfully implementing the National Strategic Plan, is the functionality of the AIDS Councils at all levels, from national all the way to the ward level. Today our meeting will be apprised by our Premiers on progress made thus far in reaching the targets of the National Strategic Plan.
In July this year, I will be leading the South Africa delegation to the 22nd International AIDS Conference in the Netherlands. That conference will bring together scientists, policymakers, world leaders, and people living with HIV to discuss successes and challenges across the world.
We expect that South Africa’s contribution to global knowledge on HIV, AIDS and TB will be immense, significant, and impactful.
There is much that others can learn from our experience, just as we stand to benefit from the wealth of expertise from around the world. The SANAC CEO, Dr. Sandile Buthelezi, will be providing us with more details on this conference.
As we open this plenary, I wish to thank you once more for your hard work and commitment to the mission and goals of SANAC.
Let our actions count.
I thank you.
African news agency