SANAC Chairperson, Deputy President David Mabuza led the public launch of Cheka Impilo campaign during this year’s commemoration of World AIDS Day in Soweto, south of Johannesburg. He had officially launched the campaign at the Presidential Health Summit held in October where various constituencies in the health sector had gathered to deliberate and seek solutions to health challenges facing the country. The public launch during World AIDS DAY 2018 was a call to all South Africans to adopt a culture of monitoring one’s health and seek medical attention timeously in order to prevent and treat diseases successfully. The Cheka Impilo campaign aims to accelerate screening and testing for HIV, tuberculosis (TB), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and non-communicable diseases such as hypertension and diabetes.
The campaign is a direct response to the call by the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa,during his first State of the Nation address in February 2018 to initiate an additional 2 million people on HIV treatment by 2020, find 88 000 missing TB cases annually and screen 7 million people for non-communicable diseases in the first year. South Africa has made considerable progress in its AIDS response in the past decade and reported that there were more than 4.5 million people on life-saving antiretroviral therapy by the end of June 2018—20% of all people on treatment worldwide. UNAIDS estimates show that as a result the number of AIDS-related deaths in South Africa has dropped significantly, from 200 000 in 2010 to 110 000 in 2017. However, there were 270 000 new HIV infections in 2017, including approximately 77 000 among adolescent girls and young women aged 15–24 years.
Deputy President David Mabuza urged all South Africans to end gender-based violence and get tested for HIV and seek treatment if HIV-positive. “We will not walk alone. We have always had partners like UNAIDS, the Global Fund and PEPFAR walking with us, side by side, shoulders to the grindstone. We know what unity and struggle is. The public launch during World AIDS Day 2018 was a call to all South Africans take responsibility for their health. Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director, attended the commemoration of the 30th anniversary of World AIDS Day in South Africa to show his support for the launch of the Cheka Impilo campaign. “Oppression and power imbalances must be reversed. Women and girls must be empowered and harmful masculinities must be consigned to the history books. Our girls and young women deserve a chance to live in a world with dignity and respect and free from violence and HIV,” said Mr Sidibé. Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s Minister of Health, thanked Mr Sidibé for inspiring South Africa almost a decade ago to turn its AIDS response into a success story, characterized by a journey from despair to hope, and from denial to acceptance and to ownership. Steve Letsike, Deputy Chairperson of SANAC and Chairperson of the SANAC Civil Society Forum, said, “Enough is enough. Patriarchy, sexism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia and stigma and discrimination must end. We can do better for our people because they matter.”