KZN to to make ARVs, condoms

2016-07-20 10:15

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Pietermaritzburg - Businesses were called upon for help in funding and driving initiatives in the fight against Aids after it was revealed that of the 36,9 million people living with HIV/Aids worldwide, 25,8 million are in sub-Saharan Africa.

A business breakfast hosted by the Durban Chamber Foundation, Durban Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Affairs at the Hilton Hotel in Durban called for businesses to work with government in fighting the Aids crisis in South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal.

Programme director and Durban chamber director Dumile Cele said that 2,6 million children in sub-Saharan Africa were living with HIV and that bringing business into the Aids fight would help “push back on the devastation of the disease”.

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo also attended the breakfast and said he had seen that India had taken great strides in involving businesses in the Aids crisis and that they had “put their money where their mouth is”. “It helps the government in the fight against the disease if government has a strong bond with business,” he said.

Dhlomo said that 3,4 million South Africans were on treatment currently but more needed to be done in terms of support from businesses and industries.

He said an industry for manufacturing ARVs and condoms for the country would be opened in KwaZulu-Natal at the Dube TradePort. “It has to be in KZN, and we will be starting the process of condom manufacturing in Durban.”

Dhlomo said they would be visiting the site later that afternoon (yesterday).

UNAids director Michel Sidibé said new energy and innovation was needed to address the Aids crisis.

“A few years ago, a person who had been diagnosed as HIV positive would have to take 18 pills and now they are only taking one,” he said. “The dream now is to inject the patient with treatment once every four months.”

However, he said the fight against Aids was failing children and that less than 15% of children who were HIV positive had access to treatment.

“... It is therefore important that industry also looks at treatments for children.”

Former Nelson Mandela School of Medicine principal and chair of the Durban Chamber Foundation Professor Nceba Gqaleni said that in the early days, having Aids was a death sentence and businesses and industries suffered because staff would often be off sick because management did not understand the “animal that is Aids”.

“We put a call out to global funders as the Durban chamber is made up of mostly smaller enterprises.

“We need to keep people healthy otherwise we will see a fall in the economy, and after the conference is over, there needs to be a discussion on how we can translate all we have learned and put it into practice.”

Internationally renowned singer and human rights activist Yvonne Chaka Chaka attended the breakfast, gracing delegates with a song after speaking on the issue of the Aids crisis.

“Business people have been helping with Aids funding and we thank you for that,” she said.

“But the KZN province has a huge problem with Aids so I am appealing to businesses to help the province as there is no health without wealth,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  hiv  |  arvs  |  kzn  |  aids

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