Mpumalanga's Gert Sibande district has highest HIV rate

2013-11-22 14:26

The Gert Sibande district in Mpumalanga has the highest HIV rate among women, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said.

“The HIV rate among pregnant women was at 46% the previous year and is increasing,” Motsoaledi told delegates today at an SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry meeting in Johannesburg.

He presented an update on progress made with the National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot project.

Motsoaledi said an increase in infections was also recorded in other developing areas, such as Waterberg in Limpopo, where Eskom’s Medupi power station is being built.

Another problem area was the platinum belt in Rustenburg, North West.

Economic activity and industrialisation in these areas attracted more people and subsequent health problems, Motsoaledi said.

Gert Sibande was characterised by mining activities.

The health data was collected from pregnant women who visited clinics for check-ups. The rate of infection among men in the areas was not known, he said.

“When the rate of HIV and TB increases among the workforce, economic development goes down because they get sick and are not able to work.”

He said he would visit businesses in Gert Sibande next week to come up with solutions to the impending health problem.

Earlier, Motsoaledi said the NHI plan was widely misunderstood. He said the NHI was a public health initiative and not a business from which to derive health benefits.

The pilot project was started in April 2012 across 11 districts in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Free State.

The OR Tambo district in the Eastern Cape was in the worst state and needed a health infrastructure overhaul, said Motsoaledi.

“Important infrastructure such as sewerage, buildings, electricity connections and equipment need replacement or are non-existent.”

The NHI would be phased in across the country over 14 years.

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