The Phnom Penh Post

Opening remarks by Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the South African National AIDS Council Plenary, Sheraton Hotel, Pretoria

Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi,

Deputy Chairperson of SANAC, Ms Steve Letsike,

CEO of SANAC, Dr Fareed Abdullah,

SANAC Board of Trustees,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning and thank you for joining us for this SANAC plenary.

We had our Extended SANAC Plenary at the beginning of June 2016.

Our productive discussions and outstanding planning contributed much to the successful hosting of the 21st International AIDS Conference.

I wish to applaud all of you for your enormous contribution in making AIDS 2016 a resounding success.

As a country, we emerged from the conference inspired, empowered and far better equipped to confront the many challenges we face.

We had much to share and learn about policy, programmes, science, research, funding and social mobilisation.

Many of the lessons from AIDS 2016 are being incorporated in our new National Strategic Plan (2017-2022).

As SANAC, we also wish to thank our government and all its agencies, including our police and intelligence services, for ensuring a safe and peaceful conference.

We thank ordinary South Africans who took ownership of the gathering and ensured that the lived experiences and voices of orphans, of grandmothers, of sex workers and of care-givers are heard and represented at the conference.

The local and international media did great work to bring the conference to our homes, hospitals, community halls and places of work.

The Conference opened on the birthday of the world’s symbol of hope and goodwill, former President Nelson Mandela .

Inspired by Madiba’s moral and political leadership, we were united in our message that it is in our hands to end AIDS in our generation.

On the 1st of December 2016, when we commemorate World AIDS Day, we will be reinforcing this message calling for decisive action to end the epidemic by 2030.

We will again be calling for greater collaboration and more investment in AIDS research and HIV treatment.

Informed by the global theme for World AIDS Day 2016, “Hands up for #HIV prevention”, we will mark this day in Daveyton under our national campaign and theme, “It is in our hands to end HIV and TB.”

More details regarding our preparations, programmes and activities on World AIDS Day will be provided today by Rev Zwo Nevhutalu.

During the SANAC Inter-Ministerial Committee meeting on Tuesday in Cape Town, I appealed to our political leadership to embrace the campaign and to take the lead in communities to drive the message of prevention.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are pleased with the progress that has been achieved by the steering committee which is developing the National Strategic Plan (NSP) 2017-2022.

We will be ready to launch this comprehensive plan on World TB Day in March 2017.

Next week, we will brief Cabinet on the milestones that we have achieved with the NSP 2012-2016 and appraise it on the high level strategic framework that informs the new NSP.

I urge all of you to take part in the NSP development processes.

Let us ensure that the various constituencies that we represent also contribute their ideas to the NSP.

Again, thanks to the team and Dr Simelela and Mr Mfundisi, the Co-Chairpersons of the NSP Development Steering Committee.

We look forward to your presentation today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The role that individuals, communities and civic organisations have played and continue to play in the war against HIV and TB is unequalled in our country.

In every corner of our land, in our rural hinterland, in small towns and big cities, you will always find grassroots leaders of our people who have made it their duty to care, to educate, to counsel, and to protect vulnerable individuals who are have contracted HIV or are infected with TB.

Funding of this sector remains a challenge.

We are pleased that SANAC has taken the lead to find innovative ways mobilising and optimising dwindling resources to support the work of civil society.

We cannot overemphasise that the health and wellbeing of any society is at the heart of a nation’s development and its shared prosperity.

We are confident that the South African business community, which is represented in SANAC, will hear government’s call to invest in the health and productive life of all South Africans.

I wish to take this opportunity to commend the Deputy Chairperson of SANAC, Ms Steve Letsike, for her hard work, commitment and persistent activism in the civil society sector.

Today we will hear from her about what she and her team have accomplished so far in the National HIV Fundraising Telethon concept.

This is a proposed mechanism to raise funds for SANAC civil society sectors.

We thank UNAIDS, the Department of Health and the Presidency for being committed partners in this important initiative.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

SANAC brings together various sectors to attend to the most pressing challenge of our times – the health of our nation.

We are tasked to urgently make the global threat of HIV and TB a thing of the past.

We carry the hopes and dreams of more than 54 million South Africans.

I am proud that SANAC discharges its responsibility with great care, diligence and compassion.

You and your families can be proud that you are making a momentous contribution to healing, renewing and building our nation.

It is your work that has saved the lives of babies born from HIV positive mothers.

It is your work that is ensuring that inmates at our correctional services are not left to die from treatable diseases like TB.

It is your work that says sex workers have rights like all of us to access health care and other support services.

It is your work that is getting the message out to young people that they can live long, productive lives if they test and access treatment.

It is your work that persuades people to use condoms, to get circumcised and to avoid risky sexual behaviour.

Together, we continue to say to our beloved nation, “It is in Our Hands.”

Working together, we will end AIDS by 2030.

I thank you.

Source: Government of South Africa.

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