14 September 2016
Mayor Zandile Gumede to Drive HIV/AIDS Programmes as New Chair of the City’s AIDS Committee
As the newly elected chairperson of the City’s AIDS Committee, Mayor Zandile Gumede has vowed to drive strategic interventions that seek to find innovative solutions to ensure that we achieve an AIDS-free generation in our lifetime.
Gumede said high on the committee’s plan of action includes getting a firm understanding of the social and economic drivers of this epidemic which will guide the implementation of robust programmes to address these.
On 13 September, the eThekwini Municipal Council established the AIDS Committee which will facilitate and co-ordinate all activities aimed at prevention, treatment, care and support of people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS within the eThekwini Municipal Area.
Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer was elected at the Deputy Chairperson of the eThekwini AIDS Committee.
The 19 Councillors to serve on the committee will be appointed by Council Speaker William Lekgoa Mapena on a proportional representation basis.
The committee also has the powers to co-opt other people with knowledge and experience in matters of HIV/AIDS to serve as advisory members.
In July, the City for the second time hosted the 21st International AIDS conference, a global gathering, bringing together health professionals, scientists, activists, policy makers and people living with HIV in pursuit of a common cause.
Gumede said it is crucial for eThekwini to create a platform to deliberate on HIV/AIDS issues at a local level to pursue the objectives set out by the South African National AIDS Council. These include providing leadership and developing policies and strategies to fight the epidemic.
“In eThekwini, we are committed to working with communities and other spheres of government to build quality health systems and provide accessible services and support to those infected and affected by the HIV/ AIDS epidemic,” said Gumede.
During the 21st International AIDS conference Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said of the 17 million people currently on treatment worldwide, nearly 10.3 million are in the eastern and southern Africa region.
The latest information from UNAIDS is that the number of people on treatment in eastern and southern Africa has more than doubled since 2010. AIDS-related deaths in the region have decreased by more than a third over the same period. Mother to child transmission of HIV has been dramatically reduced.
“Despite these successes, we cannot rest on our laurels because the fight against HIV, AIDS and Tuberculosis is not over. I am extremely concerned because too many people living with HIV do not know their status. Much more needs to be done to ensure that people infected with the virus have access to treatment. We need to drastically reduce the rate on new infections, particularly among the youth and most vulnerable populations,” said Gumede.
Issued by the eThekwini Municipality Head of Communications Unit, Tozi Mthethwa.
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