“As the TAC, we are totally opposed to our government spending millions of rands on high profile events every World AIDS Day, often in provinces where the challenges are immense,” said TAC National General Secretary Anele Yawa. “In many instances, these high profile World AIDS Day events do not make any positive impact in our battles to contain the HIV and tuberculosis (TB) epidemics in our country.”
“These events are yet another form of fruitless and wasteful expenditure of the resources that are scarce,” Yawa added.
National Department of Health spokesperson Joe Maila called TAC’s estimations of alleged government spending on World AIDS Day celebrations an unfortunate and extreme exaggeration.
He however added that the department was not in a position to disclose the exact amount of money spent on World AIDS Day celebrations set to take place in Welkom, Free State.
“World AIDS Day gives us an opportunity to engage directly with members of the community to understand their real-life stories as far as the battle against HIV/AIDS and TB is concerned and to increase awareness,” said Maila, who added that celebrations will include events at the local taxi rank, health screenings and a government visit to a Welkom clinic.
In June, TAC and public interest law organisation Section27 released a statement alleging that the Free State Department of Health had collapsed amid a financial crisis. The activist groups claimed that Free State hospitals were turning away patients while health workers waited for salaries and more than 200 essential medicines and supplied were out of stock at the Bloemfontein medicine depot.
A month later, the National Department of Health sent a task team to the Free State to evaluate supplies of medicine and essential medical equipment.
According to Maila, the task team discovered cash flow problems in the province. The National Department of Health continues to work closely with the province to reprioirtise spending to assist in service delivery, he added.
“We will continue to monitor the province and provide the necessary support in order to ensure that health service delivery is not compromised as part of our provincial support initiatives,” Maila told OurHealth.
Instead of attending World AIDS Day celebrations, the TAC will hold a 10-year reunion of HIV activists today in Johannesburg. The TAC is South Africa’s largest membership-based HIV organisation and is currently fundraising internationally and locally in the face of major funding crisis. – Health-e News.
An edited version of this story first appeared in the 1 December edition of the Cape Times newspaper.