'ARV programme was on brink of collapse'

EIGHT provinces in South Africa would have run out of antiretrovirals had Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan not added R900million to the HIV-Aids budget.

EIGHT provinces in South Africa would have run out of antiretrovirals had Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan not added R900million to the HIV-Aids budget.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi admitted yesterday that the ARV programme would have collapsed had the Treasury not intervened.

"The shortage of ARV drugs was not only in Free State. Seven other provinces were faced with the same problem.

"The R900million added by the finance minister during his mid-term budget will help us avoid the interruption," Motsoaledi said.

Last month Gordhan announced an extra R900million for providing Aids drugs in state health facilities for the rest of the fiscal year. The Treasury also added R5,4 billion to the HIV-Aids conditional grant over the medium term, given an expected rise in demand for Aids drugs.

It expected that by the end of March next year more than 900000 people will be receiving antiretroviral treatment.

The South African National Aids Council (Sanac) welcomed Motsoaledi and President Jacob Zuma's commitment on HIV and Aids.

"In the past two weeks both President Zuma and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi have committed to making the fight against Aids a top government priority," Sanac deputy chairperson Mark Heywood said yesterday.

"In the National Council of Provinces Zuma unequivocally acknowledged the devastation of Aids.

"This (Aids) has resulted in increasing mortality and a decline in the country's health.

"President Zuma and Motsoaledi have defined the problem and what needs to be done to alleviate it.

"We appeal to all, let us work together in a renewed commitment against the HIV epidemic," he said.

X