Advocacy group dismisses claim by health minister
Resource type: News
The Mercury (South Africa) |
by Xolani Mbanjwa A mere one-percent reduction in the HIV prevalence of pregnant mothers means nothing in a country where treatment of the disease is still not adequate and universal, the Treatment Action Campaign has warned. This comes after health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang told reporters in Pretoria on Monday that the prevalence of HIV among women aged between 20 and 24 – and pregnant mothers – was in decline. “Given that these trends have been found over a two-year period we think that our prevention strategies are beginning to make a difference to behaviour,” said Tshabalala-Msimang. She said the 2007 antenatal survey results of pregnant women using public health facilities indicated the same trend as the year before, with a one-percent reduction in the prevalence of HIV. TAC spokesperson Lesley Odendal was dismissive of this, saying while there might be slight reduction, inadequate treatment availability meant there was a long way to go before the country turned the corner with HIV. “This is a marginal drop. It is very little if it is true. We want prevalence to go down, but what are we doing to ensure that those mothers get the best treatment for mother-to-child transmission? Are more pregnant mothers getting tested? Are they getting the treatment?” said Odendal. She said the government’s focus should be ensuring adequate treatment was available and encouraging pregnant women to test their HIV status. At the briefing on Monday, Tshabalala-Msimang shared the “good news” that the multi-drug-resistant (MDR) and extreme drug-resistant (XDR) forms of tuberculosis were decreasing “significantly” according to a government survey. She said implementation of the TB strategic plan was well on track. The health department had trained numerous health professionals in TB management.