Address by Deputy President David Mabuza at the launch of the 2019 UNAIDS Global Report, King Dinuzulu Township, Eshowe, KwaZulu-Natal
The Acting Executive Director of UNAIDS, Ms Gunilla Carlson,
Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize,
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Sihle Zikalala,
MECs present here today,
Mayor of King Cetshwayo District, Cllr Mkhulisi,
Mayor of Umlalazi Municipality, Cllr Zulu,
Other Mayors present,
The Chairperson of Amakhosi at King Cetshwayo District, Inkosi Biyela and all Amakhosi present here today,
Senior Government and Senior SANAC Officials,
Senior Officials of UNAIDS,
Members of the media,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Firstly, I would like to thank the UNAIDS Acting Executive Director for choosing South Africa, out of the 193 United Nations Member States, to host the launch of this report.
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, and particularly the people of KwaZulu-Natal, we thank you Madam for showing confidence in us as a country and for putting the rural town of Eshowe in the global spotlight.
We also appreciate the fact that, over the past 18 years, different UNAIDS Executive Directors have visited South Africa for at least 40 times, which is evidence of a commitment from UNAIDS to South Africa.
As South Africa, we take the fight against HIV very serious as our country has the world's largest epidemic, with an estimated 20% of people living with HIV globally resident in South Africa, therefore we have a challenge that we must confront.
In many ways, South Africa's past socio-political construct, remains with us today, not least in the social dimensions of the AIDS epidemic. The poor are the most affected and vulnerable to this burden of HIV, AIDS and TB.
In South Africa, this phenomenon challenges the entire socio-economic fabric of our society and poses a threat to future generations. Statistics indicate that the poor are at the highest risk in our population.
It is for this reason that our National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STI 2017-2022, which is our roadmap and compass towards an AIDS free society, places the social and structural drivers of HIV at the centre of our response.
We acknowledge that unless we deal decisively with the challenges of unemployment, poverty, gender based violence, substance abuse and poor housing among others, we will not be able to heal our society.
This assertion is premised on the reality that the health of any individual is shaped by economic, social and environmental factors.
Therefore, our response is an integral part of the developmental agenda of our country.
On the 12th of June 2019, we launched our Human Rights Plan, which has a clear roadmap on how to address human rights violations for people infected and affected by HIV and TB, and for vulnerable and marginalised populations.
With this Plan, we aim to eradicate the stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and TB and to call out the prejudice that has fuelled it.
Stigma and discrimination have been shown to be the most potent factors in fuelling the spread of the epidemic and causing premature deaths for those infected.
Today, we are launching the UNAIDS Report in Eshowe for a very specific purpose.
The success of the work done by Doctors without Borders here at Eshowe reminds us of the social capital vested in our communities. This social capital needs to be harnessed to help guide the response.
Their effort is clear evidence that our response as government will not succeed without meaningful involvement of communities in this important fight.
We thank our communities for opening their homes to community-based workers and cooperating with them when they do this work.
We would also like to thank the community health workers who diligently move from home to home assisting our communities.
These are selfless pioneers who braze sweltering heat, who cross the rivers and travel in rainy days doing work for and with communities. We salute you for your love of our communities.
We are proud of the excellent work and the success rate achieved here in KwaZulu-Natal, especially in this place of Eshowe.
We want encourage the province to continue with this great work and replicate this model in other districts.
Let us replicate this great example throughout our country, as it represents the best practice model on the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Once again over this month of July, our country and indeed the entire world, will observe the International Nelson Mandela Day penned for the 18th of this month.
The Mandela Day calls on all of us, to make the world a better place, by showing our love and care for the most vulnerable members of our society and indeed making a difference in our communities.
Just as Madiba demonstrated through his servant leadership, we too in our small corners and in our small deeds, can rise to the challenge of making our world better than what we inherited.
Let us all make every day a Mandela Day. Let us ensure that the legacy of our late struggle stalwart and global icon lives on and continues to inspire all our peoples.
We welcome this Report being launched here today. As government, we wish to commit to a re-invigorated response to this epidemic by prioritising primary prevention and ensuring that everyone who needs treatment is put on treatment.
This community has shown us what we can achieve if we work smart and work together. Please join me in congratulating the community of Eshowe in reaching the 90-94-95 targets and for showing every community in our country and the sub-region that this is possible.
Our struggle to defeat HIV and AIDS in this generation, may seem steep. However, it is a fight worth all our efforts and policy determination.
It requires new policy direction.
Let us soldier on for the end is near.
Victory is certain!
I thank you.
Issued by: The Presidency