S. Africa remains committed to putting additional two million people on TB treatment

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-24 00:47:24|Editor: yan
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CAPE TOWN, Nov. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's target of putting an additional two million people on tuberculosis (TB) treatment by December 2020 still remains, Deputy President David Mabuza said on Saturday.

All sectors of the society are called upon to intensify the drive of finding the missing TB patients linked with the HIV pandemic, Mabuza said in his closing remarks at the one-day extended plenary of the South African National Aids Council (SANAC) held in Secunda, Mpumalanga Province, befittingly on the eve of the commemoration of World Aids Day on December 1.

These are people who are infected with TB but have never been diagnosed and therefore not on treatment, said Mabuza who leads the SANAC.

Consistent with the accelerated drive to reach and treat increased numbers of infected people, the health facilities must be ready, accessible and responsive to deepen the impact of their interventions, Mabuza said.

Official statistics show the HIV pandemic has affected approximately 7.4 million people who are HIV positive in the country.

South Africa's HIV and TB programs must be embedded within communities in a manner that allows for broad-based participation of all sectors of civil society, he noted.

"It is becoming clear that without committed leadership at all levels of government across all spheres, we will not be able to reach our stated targets and make the necessary impact," he said.

Mabuza stressed the need to strengthen the capacity of provincial, district and local Aids councils to provide leadership direction and effective coordination of HIV and Aids and TB prevention programs.

The functionality of these Aids councils must be the country's urgent priority, and premiers and mayors must play a central leadership role, he said.

"We expect all Aids councils to be functional by the end of March 2020. Not only should we ensure that they are set up and functional, we must ensure that regular meetings are convened, and there are tangible programs that are being implemented and monitored," said Mabuza.

He said the government is determined to work even harder in mobilizing more support from the private sector as it strengthens its response to the challenges of HIV/Aids and TB.

"On our part, we will work more closely with provincial and district Aids councils to ensure they function optimally, in partnership with civil society," he said.

The extended plenary, the first to be held by current administration, discussed the implementation of the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs (sexual transmitted infections) for the period between 2017-2022, as well as the functionality of provincial and district Aids councils to respond to the state of the pandemic in different provinces.

South Africa has set up a goal of ending TB by 2030. To achieve this goal, the country has adopted the 90-90-90 targets in the fight against TB.

These targets require the government to find by 2020 at least 90 percent of people infected with TB in the general population, at least 90 percent of those infected among key populations and vulnerable groups and treat successfully at least 90 percent of those who are in the treatment programs.

Annually South Africa is missing about 160,000 patients with TB, which is the country's contribution to the more than four million people globally with TB that are not on treatment, according to the South African Department of Health.