The Eastern Cape Aids Council Acting Chairperson, Dr Phumza Dyantyi, accompanied by the Eastern Cape MEC of Public Health, Helen Sauls-August and the Executive Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay, Cllr Mongameli Bobani, took to the streets of Uitenhage to officially launch HIV/AIDs Treatment and Testing Campaign today, Wednesday 7 November 2018).
The event started in the early morning hours in Uitenhage City Hall as part of a build-up to the annual commemoration of World Aids Day (WAD) on 1 December.
In her speech, Dr Dyantyi said: “This campaign comes right after the national launch by President Cyril Ramaphosa on 19 of October 2018. It is aimed at reducing new HIV & AIDs infections as well as to welcome back patients that have defaulted on treatment in the Province. Parents must fight the culture of ‘blessers’ that tend to entice school children with money.”
NMB Executive Mayor Bobani pledged his full support for the campaign and awareness campaigns that will continue around the Metro. “We have made commitments to improve the lives of our people through growing the economy. The issue of the health of the residents of the metro has become a critical one. As the City we commit to work close with our provincial counterparts to make a huge difference as we work towards World Aids Day and beyond,” said Executive Mayor Bobani.
He also called on residents to go for voluntary testing. “Knowing your status is the first step towards living a healthy lifestyle. Lets all go for testing, and when we are on medication, let us not default,” urged the Executive Mayor.
Nelson Mandela Bay has been identified by the Eastern Cape Aids Council as the area with the highest number of treatment defaulters as well as HIV infection rate within the Eastern Cape Province.
Various stakeholders, including the taxi industry, LGBTI, sex workers, South African Police Services and the Men’s Sector vowed to support this initiative. They walked around the Uitenhage taxi rank to engage people on how to prevent HIV/AIDs and access support services, and also encouraged learners to abstain from sex and hanging out in town instead of going home after school.
One of the HIV/AIDs team leaders, Nomahlubi Sibhayi, urged the communities to be welcoming and supportive of Health staff members who would be paying door-to-door visits as part of the build-up programme. “We understand that our officials get mugged and threatened during these campaigns, but we urge the communities to work hand in hand with us to ensure smooth proceedings leading up to the main event on 1 December.”
The Nelson Mandela Metro has been identified as host city to the programme, based on the poor performance of health indicators such as health screening, testing and treatment services. Sauls-August indicated that NMB had a huge number of people who were not complying with their treatment.
About 10 000 people are targeted to get tested between 07 November and 1 December. A total of 600 foot soldiers will be carrying our the message in all areas of the Metro.
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