Minister Theuns Botha’s Youth Day Message
We live in a country of opportunities with a constitution that is recognised amongst the best in the world, and protecting people’s rights. But there is a trend that people are not taking responsibility for their rights.
Minister Botha delivered his Youth Day message to an audience of students and youth representatives last week at the quarterly consultative meeting of NACOSA, a national network of 1 200 civil society organisations working to combat HIV and TB.
Minister Botha said there is a mentality that government will provide, and discarding the responsibility of the individual. “Life is all about opportunity. Life does not owe you anything. We have to ask ourselves: How do I live my life to develop to my full potential? Government’s role is to provide services, but you must decide how you live your life”.
“Youth can change the world. Our youth can change South Africa. But it will require a behaviour change to take responsibility for a healthy lifestyle, sexual behaviour, and making the right choices. That is how we can change this country”.
The Western Cape Department of Health has strong partnerships and supports approximately 150 NGOs that work in the infectious diseases domain. The services include home-based care services, HIV counselling and testing services, providing step-down care and palliative care services, mental health services, distribution of condoms and so forth.
The Department’s fight against HIV/AIDS happens on two main fronts - prevention and care and treatment. Prevention programmes include the provision of condoms, HIV counselling and testing, the prevention of mother-to-child transmission, the provision of male medical circumcision, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, and the provision of information and education.
The Department of Education has life skills programmes included in the curriculum as well as HIV/AIDS peer education programmes targeting the youth. The Department of Social Development has many youth development programmes and also offers substance abuse services for the youth.
There are initiatives to make some clinics more youth friendly. Communication media such as radio programmes, posters and pamphlets are also used to reach the youth with relevant HIV messages.
Young people are encouraged by the Department to have a HIV test annually or more often if they have had unprotected sex. Knowing your status means that young people can either stay negative if they test negative or if they test positive can access the necessary care and treatment to ensure a long and healthy life.