OPENING REMARKS BY THE DEPUTY PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA AT THEPLENARY OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL AIDS COUNCIL
08 November 2014
This is a great moment for me. It is the first time that I meet all the members of the SANAC community, a vibrant and effective social movement leading the country’s response to the HIV and TB epidemics.
It is a great honour and privilege to join this community.
Through the individual and collective networks you have built over a very long time, South Africa is now a critical part of the global HIV community.
More importantly, your commitment to this cause has contributed to some of the progress made in slowing down this devastating epidemic.
You refused to give up on humanity and today the world is a different place because of your work.
Thanks to you we have reason to be optimistic.
Yet even as we celebrate progress, we must acknowledge that we have a long and challenging path ahead. We cannot deny the significant challenges we face. And we cannot avoid them.
Great though they may be, we have the ability and the resolve to overcome them.
I say this with confidence, because in this room we have all the expertise and enterprise we need.
We have among us some of the world’s leading scientists and researchers in this field. We have representatives of vibrant and engaged civil society formations. We have dedicated health providers who have been at the coal face of this epidemic for many years.
We have representatives of the private sector, organised labour and the development community – all committed to mobilise their constituencies in support of this societal effort.
As a country, we have a valuable tradition of social partnership.
This was on display at a recent media event, where the private sector reference group was introduced. This group aims to mobilise companies across the country in support of the fight against the epidemic. It is an initiative that we must welcome and support.
The National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs is the blueprint from which we continue to craft evidence-based programmes.
We have reached the half way mark in implementation of this plan and we will be conducting a midterm review of its implementation.
The findings will help us identify gaps in our current approach. They will allow us to collectively determine what more needs to be done to ensure that we achieve the goals set out in the National Strategic Plan.
We share a vision of a South Africa that has overcome the challenges of HIV and TB. We share the vision of an HIV-free generation.
We share the vision of a South Africa in which there are zero new HIV infections, zero deaths, zero infants born with HIV and zero stigma.
We share the vision of a society in which all may enjoy good health and live a long life.
I am confident that we can achieve these goals.
Let us build on the strong foundation that has been built over time through this multisectoral collaboration.
Since this is the first SANAC plenary in the fifth administration, we thought we should spend this time considering where we are at the moment.
We need to ask ourselves a number of critical questions:
After our deliberations today, we plan to interact with the local community. We will be visiting a clinic, taxi rank and tavern to get a sense of the various ways in which our people are affected by the epidemic.
This is my second day in Mpumalanga. Yesterday, we met with Premiers, MECs, Mayors and senior provincial and local officials to discuss best practice in service delivery.
We looked in particular at KwaZulu-Natal’s Operation Sukuma Sakhe, which provides an innovative model of coordinating and integrating government’s efforts to address the needs of the people.
Following on the success of that engagement, I look forward to our discussions today and our interaction later with the community of Gert Sibande.
Working together, we have achieved much.
There is a great deal still to do. I am confident that we will succeed.
On that note, it gives me great pleasure to invite the Deputy Chair of SANAC, Steve Letsike, to make a few opening remarks before we proceed with the meeting.
I thank you.
Issued by The Presidency