Next Five Years Important For S. Africa To Show It Can Effectively Respond To HIV, TB

South Africa’s recently released “National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and Tuberculosis (TB) 2012-2016” “marked an important milestone” in the nation’s fight against infectious diseases, a Lancet editorial states. “The plan [.pdf] has several broad goals: to reduce new HIV infections by at least 50 percent; to start at least 80 percent of eligible patients on antiretroviral treatment; to reduce the number of new tuberculosis infections and deaths by 50 percent; to ensure a legal framework that protects and promotes human rights to support implementation of the plan; and to reduce self-reported stigma related to HIV and tuberculosis by at least 50 percent,” the editorial notes.

Potentially “[m]arring the start of the new strategy,” South Africa’s National AIDS Council (SANAC) “is undergoing a planned restructure involving new governance structures, a new organizational home, new tasks, and new staff,” but “[t]he change is much needed,” the editorial states. “Although the council’s restructuring is likely to affect its work in the short-term, the upheaval will be short-lived,” according to the Lancet, which says SANAC’s new executive director, Fareed Abdullah, “is a capable leader.” The editorial concludes that SANAC “must be a strong, effective organization to provide leadership for the next era of the country’s AIDS and tuberculosis response. The next five years will be crucial for South Africa to prove that it can not only take responsibility for its epidemics of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, but that it can also achieve impressive results in controlling them” (4/14).