Local government and NGOs recently met in the East Rand as part of a two-day meeting.
The meeting was part of efforts to develop a district strategic plan, which will allow the district to meet targets laid out in the 2012 National Strategic Plan on HIV, Sexually Transmitted Infections and TB (NSP). The NSP aims to halve new HIV and TB infections as well as stigma, and place 80 percent of those living with HIV on antiretrovirals (ARVs).
Makhusazana Maluleke heads Ekurhuleni’s health and social development portfolio as a Member of the Mayoral Committee. Maluleke said he was confident the metro would reach NSP targets.
Ekurhuleni AIDS Council women’s sector representative Nontyatyambo Makapela echoed Maluleke’s confidence.
“With the partnerships and the joint programmes that Ekurhuleni is doing through civil society, I can say that we will reach the NSP targets,” she said. “We are doing very well in terms of meeting targets, but the only challenges we have are economic.”
Founder and director of the national anti-trafficking NGO Asilweni Cleaning Streets Cherlyn Tshabangu cautioned that the district will never be able to achieve targeted reductions in HIV new cases without better national legislation to protect vulnerable populations who have been trafficked and may be sexually exploited.
Although President Jacob Zuma signed the Prevention and Combating of Trafficking in Persons Bill into law in 2013, Tshabangu criticised national anti-trafficking laws as being too lax.
The recent law makes trafficking people a criminal offense and allows for persons to also be prosecuted for debt bondage and withholding travel documents. Those found guilty may be fined up to R100 million and risk life imprisonment.