Western Cape Boost for Aids Fight: Premier Announces 3 New ARV Treatment Sites
Our Western Cape Government will not rest until every person who needs treatment for HIV/Aids has access to that treatment. We know that our doctors, our nurses and our heath-care professionals face this virus at every turn. We understand and share their determination to use every resource at our disposal to prevent new infections, to treat those already infected and to win the war against Aids in the Western Cape.
When the announcement was made on 19 November last year that the National Cabinet had approved the comprehensive national treatment plan, the Western Cape stood ready. Our Health Department under the leadership of Minister Piet Meyer, stepped up our pilot treatment projects and by World Aids Day, on 1 December, we were able to announce that instead of the six treatment sites recommended by the plan for the Western Cape, we would have 15 in operation by the end of the financial year.
There are already 13 of these sites in operation: in Gugulethu, Langa, three in Khayelitsha, Hout Bay, Mannenberg, Tygerberg, Paarl, George, Worcester, and at Groote Schuur and the Red Cross Children's Hospital. There are already 2000 patients on anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment in the Western Cape.
It is my great pleasure today to announce the three new treatment sites which will boost our fight against Aids and fulfil the undertaking we made on World Aids Day: Mitchell's Plain, Beaufort West, and the Hottentots Holland Hospital in Somerset West. At least 20 new patients will commence treatment here in Mitchell's Plain and another 20 in Beaufort West over the next six weeks, with Hottentots Holland due to commence at the end of March.
This vital achievement has been made possible by a number of important developments like the negotiations that have brought ARV treatment prices to below R400/patient/month compared to more than R10 000/patient/month just two years ago - we now have access to the lowest priced ARV drugs in South Africa. We have also been greatly assisted by our domestic and international partners like Crusaid in the UK, Doctors Without Borders, and the Global Fund Against Aids.
The most important factor however in the Western Cape's success has been the dedication, commitment, expertise and passion of our health-care professionals. If our province deserves praise for how rapidly we are advancing our fight against Aids, it is they who deserve the credit. On behalf of the people and the Government of the Western Cape I would like to pay tribute today to their efforts and to thank them all for their professionalism.
The problem that we face though, is a serious shortage of these professionals in the primary health care facilities where most of our treatment sites are situated. I would like to take this opportunity today to call on doctors, nurses and pharmacists to join our public health services at the level of primary care - we need your help to ensure that our treatment programme is rolled out even more effectively and more rapidly to our people.
Enquiries: Riaan Aucamp