According to Dr Thobile Mbengashe, Chief Director for HIV/AIDS and STIs in the national Health Department, the department has asked Treasury for R7.8 billion in AIDS funding this new financial year. This is one billion rand more than what Treasury allocated last year. A considerably huge chunk of the money will go towards funding HIV prevention programmes.
‘Moving forward, we are almost looking at over 30% of our budget for ART to be directed towards prevention. We’ve made sure that we pull all the resources to make sure that condoms are available, HCT is available. It is quite a huge programme. It’s part of the programme for prevention of new infections ‘ STIs and TB and mother-to-child transmission and making sure that women survive pregnancies and children survive pregnancies. It’s no secret that the national Department of Health, just on the ART programme in 2010’¦ we have actually allocated over R6 billion. And that amount is going to increase to about R7.8 billion. And our expectation is that we’ll probably be putting, on prevention alone, over R1.3 billion, so there are huge resources that are being put into this’, Mbengashe says.
He emphasised that it was important to spend money on prevention.
‘In the current budget we had about R6 billion to actually do both the prevention and the treatment. In the next budget we are looking for R7.8 billion. And we’re actually taking a bigger slice ‘ over 30% of that to make sure that we are providing for prevention. Prevention to us is really the core of our programme’.
This is in keeping with President Jacob Zuma’s address during his State of the Nation speech over a week ago that the government seeks to revitalise its programmes, such as prevention efforts. He said this includes Medical Male Circumcision, Prevention of Mother To Child HIV Transmission and the promotion of HIV testing. Just over 5 million HIV tests have been done since Zuma launched the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign last year.