Skweyiya: Workshop on HIV/AIDS (19/02/2003)

19th February 2003

Date: 19/02/2003
Source: Ministry of Social Development
Title: Skweyiya: Workshop on HIV/AIDS


Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honour for me to be given an opportunity of addressing this historic gathering. It is historic because in the next three days you will engage one of the most pertinent policy and programmatic issues and concerns of our times viz HIV/AIDS, poverty and related service delivery.

These are issues of grave concern not only for our country but the Southern African region, the continent and indeed the entire globe. All the representatives of government, civil society and the international donor community gathered here will ponder on very important questions that must assist in finding sustainable solutions to this pandemic. We dare not run away from the problem. We have no option but to face it head on. This workshop ought to deal with the following:

Firstly, how can we together as government, civil society, the donor community and all sectors of our society ensure the provision of equitable services for people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS, poverty and unemployment?

Secondly, how can we together ensure the efficient and effective provision of services to people infected or affected by this dreadful disease, HIV/AIDS, especially the poorest of the poor?

It is an indisputable fact that HIV/AIDS and poverty are having devastating and painful effects on many families especially the poorest in rural areas and informal settlements. It is estimated that there are over 4 million South Africans are infected with the disease. About 1 million children will be orphaned by the year 2010.

The sub-Saharan region in general and Southern Africa in particular is reported as the worst affected by this pandemic. All these will have far reaching consequences for the future of the African Union, NEPAD and not least our country.

The most vulnerable sectors of our society, viz. children, people with disabilities and older persons bear the main brunt. The pain and suffering of many children who are becoming orphans because of AIDS continues to haunt the nation. The suffering is immeasurable, it is safe to say that almost daily, if not weekly, families have to bury their loved ones; there are long queues in government offices of people looking for assistance; older persons try to make ends meet by utilising their meagre pensions to support orphans and extended families.

It is also well known that poverty, unemployment and other social ills further compound the effects of this disease over our people. The pain and suffering endured by children in particular is a matter grave concern.

It is therefore important that this gathering comes out with concrete proposals on how we can collectively and individually confront this problem. Now more than ever before, we need to work together across the political, social and economic spectrum. We can only defeat HIV/AIDS, poverty and unemployment by pulling all our energies and resources together. We need to make sure that all sectors of our society are rallied to confront and deal with the challenge of HIV/AIDS and poverty.

The government has been allocating huge resources to enhance prevention and treatment programmes. Public education campaigns are underway targeting mostly youth and women. The question you should pose in your deliberations: Are we making the necessary impact? If not, what needs to be done and how can the work be improved and strengthened?

Currently the government in general and the Department of Social Development in particular is implementing a range of programmes to assist the poorest of the poor and those affected or infected by HIV/AIDS. These programmes include the provision of social security assistance like grants, poverty relief programmes, integrated sustainable rural development and urban renewal programmes, HIV/AIDS community and home-based care programmes, integrated food security and nutrition programmes.

Billions of rands are allocated annually for these programmes. Last year alone, the DSD was allocated R100 million for PRP and R46 million rands for HIV/AIDS community and home-based care. The disbursement of these funds to the provinces is almost complete.

We as government have placed children at the top of our priorities. An extension of eligibility of grants to children up to 14 years over the next three years is underway. We want to give more attention to provide better care and support for child-headed households.

Cabinet has set aside R230 millions for the food security programme with emphasis on the distribution of food parcels. Consultations are underway to prepare for a massive roll out campaign for the distribution of food parcels, which is scheduled to start early next month.

The programme is targeting over 1,2 million beneficiaries from seven provinces viz. Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, North West, Free State, Mpumalanga, and Northern Cape.

I urge all of you to assist in ensuring that this programme does indeed reach out to the deserving beneficiaries; that the deserving beneficiaries are correctly identified. A national stakeholder forum has been established composed of faith-based organisations, unions, the government and non- governmental organisations. I take this opportunity to commend Cosatu, the SACC, SANGOCO, public servants and other formations that have come out to assist. I urge all NGOs, CBOs, business and labour to join hands in this venture.

Ladies and Gentlemen, there are still many and huge challenges we face as we work towards building a caring society and a better life for all. Government alone cannot tackle these issues. Some of the challenges we face which I urge all of you to assist in tackling are:

* Working together with the government to strengthen poverty relief programmes and make them more accessible and efficient
* Strengthening civil society especially organisations working with the poorest of the poor
* Identification of the poorest families especially children and child headed households
* Development of a uniform and comprehensive programme of services for people with HIV/AIDS for standardised implementation across all provinces
* Improvement of the management of funds as well as monitoring and evaluating programmes * Strengthening partnerships with all spheres of government and
* A massive registration campaign to reach children up to the age of 9 years to receive the Child Support Grant as from the year 2003-2004

The President, Mr Thabo Mbeki, has further urged that we mobilise and deploy a cadre of community development workers to ensure we deliver effective and efficient services to the poorest of the poor, informed and directed by the actual needs of those communities.

I also urge this gathering to look at how we can develop, capacitate, manage and deploy effectively these development workers; link us with the communities and ensure that our programmes are informed by community needs and responsive to those needs.

Millions of vulnerable people out there like children, older persons and people with disabilities are waiting anxiously. They yearn for a better life and wait for concrete answers from all of us. We dare not fail them.

I wish you fruitful deliberations over the next three days and hope you will deliver concrete suggestions that will further improve our services and sooner bring the goal of a better life for all closer to all.

I thank you

Issued by Ministry of Social Development
19 February 2003