The organisation, People Living with HIV and AIDS in North West are calling for the dissolution of the Provincial AIDS Council. They say the provincial government lacks the political will to support and fund courses aimed at empowering those who cater to people living with HIV and AIDS.
This is as various stakeholders, including civil society and government authorities, met in Klipgat near Brits for the provincial commemoration of World AIDS Day.
According to research conducted by the international charity, Avert, last year close to 7,7 million South Africans are living with HIV and AIDS.
On International Aids Day, residents of Klipgat outside Brits in the North West came in numbers to commemorate those living with HIV and AIDS and also to remember those who lost their lives to this deadly disease.
The Provincial Aids Council in the province says they have not received any assistance from government as the focus is now on COVID-19. A member of the council, Neo Moepi, explains:
“The Aids Council in the North West has collapsed, we do not have structures. The Deputy President comrade, David Mabuza, must come to the North West, the council he launched in 2019 has collapsed. They must come and dissolve it and must meet with people living with HIV and civil society to discuss a way forward. We do not want Provincial Aids Council in the office of the premier. The money is there, we cannot access it, today there is nothing.”
Moepi explains that they are worried about the fact that they have not received any resources to fight HIV and Aids.
“They have never committed resources to HIV the way they are committing resources to COVID-19. It is because the COVID-19 vaccine comes in big bulks of billions. It benefits pharmaceutical companies but when they were supposed to give ARV’s to our people living with HIV. We were told they are toxic, dangerous, we must eat beetroot, garlic, and all sort of things.”
The 43-year-old, Keneilwe Rammoi, has been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS 13-years-ago. She says lack of support from health professionals causes people to default on their medication.
“At the clinics, the nurses don’t treat us well as people living with HIV. I ended up not going to collect my treatment because I skipped the date, we are being labelled. With this COVID many people defaulted because of stigma mitigation.”
Health authorities in the province have denounced calls for the dissolution of the Provincial AIDS Council. MEC for the department Madoda Sambatha says the budget for medication is not enough.
“Throughout the country from lockdown level 5 it was proven then to be difficult for people living with HIV and AIDS. That’s why the government at level 3 decided that all services expected by Department of Health must be done. The only issue that we must say is that now we have a budget for medicines which is not enough.”
Meanwhile, health authorities in the province have committed to continue engagements with all stakeholders in the Provincial Aids Council to seek an amicable solution to this impasse.
World Aids Day | North West Premier Bushy Maape to lead province’s commemoration in Bojanala: