Dramatic fall in KZN infant HIV infection

2012-02-22 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL is slowly gaining ground in the battle against HIV and Aids, Premier Zweli Mkhize said yesterday.

The mother-to-child HIV transmission rate had dropped from 22% to 2,8% in the past four years, Mkhize said.

The premier said: “While KwaZulu-Natal has been known as the epicentre of the HIV and Aids pandemic, there are signs that the battle is being won, albeit slowly.”

He said more than 500 000 HIV patients were on antiretroviral treatment in the province.

“We are also happy that voluntary counselling and testing has seen more than two million people being tested.”

More than 100 000 males had been circumcised in a provincial government programme.

However, the province was battling with the high rate of resistant tuberculosis.

Ntombizonke Ndlovu, a policy communication and research co-ordinator with the Treatment Action Campaign, credited the political leadership in KwaZulu-Natal for the reduction in mother-to-child HIV transmission.

“But we still believe the 2,8% is still too much …” she added.

Mkhize said that as part of the government’s primary healthcare chain Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo had been directed to employ the full quota of community care-givers and ward-based community nurses.

“The vacancies for all nursing posts in hospitals and clinics must be filled and training of more nurses fast-tracked.”

Cassim Lekhoathi, the provincial secretary of Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa), said this could lead to an increase in registered nurses. He said the gap between staff and registered nurses had to be bridged.

Mkhize, who has been among the architects of the National Health Insurance scheme, said that this year KZN would pilot the scheme in two districts, which be announced by Dhlomo when all compliance issues were finalised.

“At long last, after so many years of campaigning for it, it fills me with joy to proclaim that the National Health Insurance is here — and it is here to stay.”

• thamsanqam@witness.co.za

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