Pretoria - Deputy President David Mabuza has vowed that through unity and partnership with international partners, the scourge of HIV/Aids could be history by the year 2030.
He was speaking at the commemoration of World Aids Day in Xikundu village in Giyani, Limpopo, yesterday, held under the theme, Working together to end inequalities, Aids, TB and Covid-19.
The day is meant to commemorate, reflect and highlight the plight of the people living with and affected by Aids, with Covid-19 and TB, and to also continue building awareness around these global challenges.
This year marks 40 years since the first cases of HIV/Aids were recorded and reported.
Since then, HIV has developed in 75 million people across the world, with South Africa recording eight million cases.
Over 33 million people across the world have died from Aids-related illnesses since the start of the global epidemic.
It is estimated that over 3.6 million people in the country lost their lives due to Aids-related illnesses in the period between 1985 and 2020.
Mabuza, flanked by Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla, Limpopo Premier Stan Mathabatba and some of his MECs, called on the international community to come to the party in the fight against the pandemic.
“We cannot achieve this milestone on our own without the full co-operation of our international partners. We have learnt this through the recent experience of the Covid-19 pandemic and the inequities in accessing vaccines to build a healthier world for all and to ensure that no one is left behind. We are in this together.”
He said there was an international agreement to strengthen the country’s role in the integrated response to the dual epidemics of HIV and TB as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.
He added that addressing gender-based violence, femicide and promoting gender equality would go a long way towards addressing HIV/Aids.
“Furthermore we have agreed to work together in addressing gender-based violence and femicide, and to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in order to reduce the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV/Aids.”
Mabuza said regulating the licences for liquor outlets in communities, and campaigning for the elimination of drugs and substance abuse, were vital to ensuring that children are freed from this scourge.
“These interventions must ensure that we also improve the health outcome of eliminating maternal deaths in our country, and we look at other sectors of society like traditional leaders, traditional health practitioners and interfaith leaders to work together with government in fighting these challenges.”
He called for citizens of the country to test for Aids, TB and Covid-19.
“As we commemorate this year’s World Aids Day, we have to act in unison and be integrative in our national response to this global epidemic as we do with the current fight against Covid-19 pandemic.”
He vowed that there would be an integration of health services to treat HIV and TB in order to guarantee social protection for the vulnerable as well as economic empowerment opportunities for the poor majority.
“Working together we can end inequalities as well as Aids, TB and Covid-19 by getting tested, vaccinated and adhering to treatment,” he added.