The South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) has officially commenced the process of developing the new National Strategic Plan (NSP) for HIV, TB and STIs for the period 2023-2028 through provincial, national, targeted and sector-specific consultations.
The NSP is a five-year national strategy on how the country should respond to the HIV, TB and STIs epidemics. It contributes to the National Development Plan and ultimately, the greater Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. SANAC carries the national mandate to coordinate the drafting of the strategy by bringing together all sectors of society such as government, civil society, business, scientists, development partners, researchers and ordinary South Africans.
The current NSP for the period 2017-2022 is currently under evaluation whilst the country continues to implement the Catch-Up Plans designed to mitigate against the effects of COVID-19 on HIV and TB programmes. The current NSP under review had bold and ambitious targets such as to reduce new HIV infections from 270 000 to less than 100 000 per year; reduce TB infections from 450 000 to less than 315 000
per year, as well as to accelerate the country towards meeting the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets, which called on countries to ensure that, by December 2030, 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% of those infected are on sustained treatment and, 90% of those on treatment are virally supressed. South Africa only met the first 90 by December 2020, however, the figures have continued to improve since then. The ongoing implementation of the NSP Catch-Up Plans seek to help the country meet these targets so it could work towards
the new 95-95-95 targets.
Drawing lessons from consultations of previous NSPs, there is strong emphasis to solicit as much community voices as possible to ensure that no one is left behind. Placing communities at the centre of the response remains a priority. SANAC structures in provinces are working tirelessly to ensure that each provincial consultation follows a bottomup approach and is fully inclusive. Upon conclusion of the provincial consultations, there will be targeted consultations with specific sectors such as key and vulnerable populations (sex workers / drug users etc.), media and development partners to mention a few.
After all the provincial and targeted consultations are done, a multisectoral national consultation inclusive of all SANAC structures will commence, following which, the first draft of the NSP will be compiled for public comment. The draft will be disseminated through various mechanisms and made available on an accessible online platform. Running parallel to the entire process of consultations will be an online survey for those unable to attend any of the physical consultations.
The complete strategy is to be endorsed by SANAC structures before being tabled to cabinet for approval. The official launch will be in March 2023 and will be led by Deputy President David Mabuza in his capacity as the chairperson of SANAC.