Deputy President David Mabuza has commended the efforts being made by the National Aids Council and others in the fight against HIV and tuberculosis (TB).

Mabuza is leading a plenary session in Polokwane on the national strategic plan to fight these diseases. The meeting is in preparation for the international Aids conference taking place next month.

Mabuza says partnerships between various role players have had a significance impact in fighting HIV and TB.

“I wish to convey my gratitude to all of you for the critical work you have been doing to ensure that our beloved country is counted among those that are leading in the fight against HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Through our patriotism and commitment, our fight against HIV, TB and STIs has resulted in slowing down these epidemics, although we all agree that it’s not at a pace that we aspire.”

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says the world needs to change its attitude towards dealing with TB.

Motsoaledi says despite the progress made – countries, including South Africa; need to intensify prevention and treatment programmes for TB, which he says it is currently the number one killer among among infectious diseases in the world.

“We have got a killer amongst our midst, which is annihilating us, but it does not care anybody. That killer is TB.  As we are sitting here today, I wish to announce to you that TB is now number one killer of all infectious diseases in the world. In the last 200 years TB has killed more people than Aids, cholera, malaria. But many of us here have heard action against them, but not about TB.”

Deputy Chairperson of the South African National Aids Council – SANAC- Steve Letsike, says the country is facing a challenge to reduce new HIV infections to 88 000 in the next two years. Letsike addressed delegates at the SANAC extended plenary session underway in Polokwane, Limpopo.

“We are now are under pressure deputy president because by 2020 we must have reduced infections to 88 000 as a country. We only have one year. Our current new infections are at 27 0000 annually and that means that we must move fast in our response. Deputy President in 2010 we launched a testing campaign which was successful, but we are not testing in the same rate as we were testing eight years ago.”