Ministers in the Inter Ministerial Committee on HIV and AIDS and TB;
Representatives of the UNAIDS;
Members of the Government Senior Management Service;
Ladies and gentlemen.
It is an honour to address you on this important occasion to discuss measures to intensify the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign within the public service.
The launch of the various guidelines by Minister Sisulu eloquently delivered through the lips of Minister Motsoaledi marks another critical milestone in our response to the dual epidemics of HIV and TB.
We all spend a significant amount of time at work every day and it is important for government to strive for the creation of an enabling environment for all employees. The successful implementation of the guidelines launched here today will go a long way towards the achievement of this objective.
We are acutely aware of the fact that much more needs to be done to achieve many other objectives we have defined in the various strategic plans of the different government departments and we acknowledge the work that has been done so far.
As indicated by the Minister of Public Services and Administration, so eloquently represented here by Minister Motsoaledi a number of problems have been identified, thus pointing to various systemic weaknesses pervasive across various departments, which demand on-going and consistent correction.
Since the President launched of the national HIV Counselling and Testing campaign, over 20 million people have come forth to be screened and tested for various diseases. This campaign has indeed been successful.
However, our goal is to ensure that people get tested and screened at least once a year and therefore we must find ways of sustaining the momentum.
Today, we are launching the intensification of the HCT campaign in the public sector to do just that.
As such it is crucial that the government, as the leading partner in the drive for universal HCT programmes, lead by example.
It is therefore important that we step up our campaigns and programmes within the public sector ensuring that each employee is encouraged to know their status, to encourage their relatives to do the same and promote a healthy life style overall.
We must inculcate a healthy lifestyle through the force of example.
Allow me to cite the statement of the National Development Plan by the National Planning Commission: ‘A capable developmental state is an essential precondition for South Africa’s development.
Such a capable state cannot materialise by decree, nor can it be legislated or created through glossy strategic plans, conferences, seminars, meetings and talk-shops.
A capable developmental state has to be built, painstakingly, brick by brick, institution by institution and can only be sustained and rejuvenated, patiently, over time.
This will require strong and capable leadership; it will require sound policies; a skilled workforce; clear lines of accountability; appropriate systems and consistent and efficient implementation.’
In essence this means that people and human resources are central to the successful implementation of the National Development Plan but more importantly, that the public service and its employees are a critical component of the state‘s capabilities.
A healthy, productive and committed public service is thus critical to the overall success of government in the attainment of its broad development agenda.
Thus, the intensification of the HIV Counselling and Testing campaign is at once a gateway to the implementation of the new guidelines and initiating a culture of taking responsibility for our health and wellness.
The National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs has defined this intervention as one of the priorities in our response. We want to encourage other sectors to follow this lead and extend services to their employees and the communities in which they work.
From all these interventions we are confident that a future of zero new infections, zero discrimination, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero new infections due to vertical transmission is within reach.
With these few words I wish to thank you for leading and directing this programme from this morning and I congratulate those who have taken the opportunity to use these services and now know their health status.
I wish to encourage and urge those who have yet to take this step to do so in order to maximise the benefits of treatment, care and support.
Let us continue to support and encourage one another to live healthy lives.
Let us lead by example and work together to create and sustain a public service that we can all be proud of.
I thank you.