The country’s plan to fight Aids and TB does nothing to address the infrastructure backlog at health facilities, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) said on Thursday.
Some health facilities had no HIV-testing kits, which put into doubt the goal of reducing the number of new HIV infections to less than 100 000 by 2022, the TAC's Vuyokazi Gonyela said at the organisation’s 6th national congress in Sterkfontein.
"We are not going to do that if in Limpopo over 12 facilities that were surveyed by TAC were out of HIV testing kits. How are we supposed to encourage communities to come and test for HIV when you get into a facility, there is no testing kit?" she asked.
She was criticising the National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, TB and sexually transmitted infections, which was developed by the SA National Aids Council (Sanac) and its chairperson, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The plan aims to reduce new HIV infections by 63%, from 270 000 in 2016 to less than 100 000 by 2022. This would mean doubling the number of people on antiretroviral treatment, and a significant reduction in TB and sexually transmitted infections.
Gonyela said Sanac was not transparent and the NSP was full of holes. It addressed treatment, but not infrastructure issues. She told Ramaphosa that while the TAC helped draft the plan, its input never made it into the final document.
“That is why we are not confident with the NSP that we have."
"We have been trying to work with government for all these years and what are we met with in return? We are labelled radicals, counter-revolutionaries because people do not want to listen to the issues that we are bringing to the fore."
Ramaphosa and Sanac had failed to advise government on the best policies to be added to the final NSP document, she said.
She said the TAC surveyed 158 clinics countrywide in 2014. Of those, only 14 met infection control standards.
“If we are not prioritising infrastructural issues at Sanac level, it means our HIV and TB response is not going anywhere," she said.
Ramaphosa said he would find a way to address the TAC’s concerns.
Sanac brings together government, civil society, and the private sector in an attempt to co-ordinate efforts to fight Aids, TB, and sexually-transmitted infections.