Premier of the Host Province, Dr Zweli Mkhize;
Premiers of Free State, Northern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape;
Ministers and MECs;
Members of the South African National Aids Council;
Members of the Provincial and District Aids Councils;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Let me take this opportunity to welcome the newly nominated sector representatives to serve on the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC). Indeed today marks an important milestone in our response as we unveil our newly constituted SANAC Plenary.
I also wish to extend a warm welcome to all the provincial delegations present here today under the leadership of the Premiers and MECs. As you all know, the National Strategic plan for HIV, TB and STIs 2012-2016, was launched by the President on World AIDS Day on December 1 2011.
Since the launch we have made significant progress in the process of gearing ourselves up to ensure that we oversee and guide its implementation in accordance with the SANAC mandate.
We have been going through a phase of renewal and strengthening of the Governance Framework to address some of the gaps and weaknesses identified in the Final Review of the National Strategic Plan which expired in 2011.
As the highest body which advises government on all HIV and TB-related policies and programmes, SANAC continues to be regarded as a valuable engagement mechanism for all stakeholders involved in the HIV response in the country.
In this regard, we are also in the process of strengthening all structures of SANAC from the national level through to the provincial, district and local levels.
At the national level, progress has been made, a revised structure was approved by the SANAC Sector Leaders on 17 August 2012 and the process for nomination of new members is almost complete.
As such we congratulate those who have been nominated and are present here today and urge the SANAC Secretariat (under the leadership of the new CEO, Dr Fareed Abdullah) to support the remaining civil society sectors that are yet to conclude their nominations, so that we can get everybody on board as we proceed with our work.
We also acknowledge that there are some sectors that are in the process of reorganising themselves and we will provide them with the opportunity to conclude nominations once they have organised themselves.
In order to bring everyone up to speed on some of the key aspects of SANAC, the Secretariat is planning an induction workshop for all new Plenary members which will take place before the end of October.
This induction will allow members to familiarise themselves with SANAC processes and procedures, as well as provide members with relevant information to function effectively in their new roles as we work towards meeting the objectives of SANAC.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our new National Strategic Plan for 2012-2016, was informed by an extensive body of research which was conducted in 2010.
The Know Your Epidemic, Know Your Response analyses, highlighted critical and pertinent aspects of the epidemic. One of the important lessons we have drawn from this research is the need to tailor our interventions in line with the realities on the ground.
We are also alive to the fact that each province has unique economic, social, infrastructural and cultural characteristics and that there are population dynamics, health and community systems and human resource issues that determine the impact of programmes - thus requiring context-specific approaches that are necessary for success. This underpins the importance of having functional and efficient Provincial Councils on AIDS to better monitor the provincial responses.
At the epicentre of the epidemic in South Africa, this province of Kwa-Zulu-Natal (KZN), continues to identify, pilot and roll out innovative strategies to mitigate the impact of HIV and TB in the province.
The KZN Premier's HIV and TB Flagship Programme which effectively applies a strong bottom-up governance framework has been identified as one of the most effective and robust approaches towards achieving wall to wall coverage of programmes and interventions in the communities.
This is precisely why we are meeting here today to learn lessons from the KZN Provincial Council on AIDS and to see policy in action.
Experience teaches us that for this work to succeed, we need to have:
· A strong secretariat that focuses on co-ordinating and supporting sectors;
· Vibrant sectors that are as effective and accountable;
· Strong, visible, efficient and inclusive Provincial and District AIDS Councils;
· Joint planning and better coordination among all government departments and agencies in order to address inter-sectoral challenges such as teenage pregnancy and associated sexual risks;
· Strategic and Heightening the involvement of business and organised labour in implementing all aspects of the National Strategic Plan.
· Work with all development partners to align their work in supporting our national priorities and to sustain material, and non-material, resource support;
· Marshall and galvanise all sectors of society, especially young people, to become crusaders and custodians of our to prevention campaign.
In order to achieve the noble objectives we must at all times set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound targets.
I hope that this experience will galvanise all of us to move in a similar direction as we implement the National Strategic Plan over the next 4 years and beyond.
Let me take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the Premier and his delegation for hosting us once again and for affording us the opportunity to tap into the collective knowledge and experiences of his team.
In the words of Elbert Hubbard "The best preparation for good work tomorrow is good work today”. Let us start with our good work today in order to ensure success tomorrow and beyond!
I thank you.