R30m Grant for Aids from ARK
"The fight against HIV/Aids in South Africa and the Western Cape will only be won when governments, organisations, the private sector, communities and individuals stand together and forge partnerships that bring every available resource to bear." These were the words of Western Cape Premier, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, accompanied by Western Cape Health Minister, Piet Meyer, at a ceremony held earlier today at Leeuwenhof, the Premier's official residence.
"It is this spirit of partnership that has already been the guiding principle for our Western Cape Government in our existing programmes to push back Aids infections and to treat those already infected," said the Premier. "We are therefore pleased and grateful today to accept from the trustees of Absolute Return for Kids (ARK) this symbolic cheque for more than R30 million which will be used to support the provincial roll-out of anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment in our Western Cape communities."
ARK is a coalition of some of Europe's most successful hedge funds which have come together to pool charitable resources and to transform and uplift the lives of children who are victims of abuse, disability, illness and poverty. With operations in the United Kingdom, Eastern Europe and South Africa, ARK has already established involvement in Langa, Hout Bay and Mitchell's Plain, with a focus on providing ARV treatment and support to primary care givers (mostly mothers).
"This substantial contribution to our Aids programme will fund the treatment of patients at selected sites across the province who are the main care-givers for children. Ultimately this treatment is about extending the lives of HIV-positive parents, and reducing the number of Aids orphans," said the Premier. "It will also provide additional staff, a specialist 'SWAT' team to support new treatment sites, and help us to subsidise NGO's that assist patients on ARV drugs to stick to the treatment programme."
The Premier also added that the ARK funding would allow at least another 1500 mothers or care-givers to be placed on treatment, at Red Cross Children's Hospital, Groote Schuur Hospital and at least another two sites in the Western Cape.
Thanking the ARK trustees the Premier said: "Our Western Cape Government is absolutely committed to doing everything in our power to reduce infection levels and to treat our people already infected. In the Provincial Budget, which was tabled yesterday in Parliament, we have almost doubled the funding for the fight against Aids from R47 million this year to R90 million in the new financial year. We have also brought our number of ARV treatment sites in the province up to 16 - almost triple the number called for in the national treatment strategy. But we know that we cannot win this battle without the help and the resources of partners like ARK. On behalf of our people and our Government we thank them for their generosity and their commitment to securing a better future for our children."
Enquiries: Riaan Aucamp
Cell: 083 778 9923