The NERCHA National Executive Director, Khanyakwezwe Mabuza has noted that even though significant progress has been realised in the existence of the NSF 2018-2023, there is still significantly more work ahead of us – and as such, every day and every minute is important to lead the country towards Vision 2022. Mabuza further states that the year 2020 provides a rare opportunity to galvanize and strengthen collaboration between all HIV response stakeholders to achieve the common vision of ending AIDS by 2022, saying that this is possible only through concerted, consistent and collaborative effort.
As per norm at the beginning of each year, Mabuza has provided direction as to the areas of focus for the country’s HIV response in the new year. These include:
- Strengthening and increasing investment in HIV prevention interventions aligned to the newly launched National HIV Prevention Policy 2019 - The key target group is Adolescent Girls and Young Women and their partners due to their extraordinary vulnerability and susceptibility to contracting HIV. Evidence based programming will be delivered for improved prevention aligned with targets in the 2020 HIV prevention roadmap.
- Continuing Support for People Living with HIV (PLHIV) - The year will present an opportunity to further support groups of PLHIV at community level to partake in the response to HIV and AIDS through the operationalization of the small grants scheme, whose application process is now open. This support is additional to on-going programmes made available through other partners. The country’s HIV response recognizes that PLHIV are at the centre of the HIV response and all efforts of reducing stigma and discrimination rests significantly on how PLHIV are supported to deal with impact of HIV and therefore, a human rights-based approach to programming will be adopted to ensure that no one is left behind. All voices will be heard in ensuring that we all work towards ending AIDS.
- Strengthening and improving decentralized HIV services and community dialogues - These will be enhanced to ensure that the hard to reach population access HIV services particularly life-saving antiretroviral treatment, voluntary medical male circumcision, adherence to treatment and retention on treatment. Community leadership at all levels is vital in creating an enabling environment for the HIV response to proliferate. In response to regional dialogues outreach HIV services will be promoted.
- Strengthening and improving monitoring and evaluation systems – Particular effort will be made to strengthen and improve monitoring of community-based response to HIV and AIDS to provide real-time data and make it available to users at all levels with emphasis on those working at regional and community levels. Granular and surveillance data will be required to inform the sustainable financing and response localisation strategies.
- Aligning grants management services with changing demands of funders – This will ensure that whilst the country remains consistent in practise, that it also learns and improves its grants management capacity.
- Recognizing the role played by women in HIV response- The HIV response recognizes and intends to strengthen women’s participation in the bid to end AIDS.
- Expanding and increasing advocacy efforts – HIV and AIDS continue to be “Indzaba Yetfu Sonkhe” so it needs all our concerted efforts. To instil the vision of ending AIDS by 2022 as a public health threat to all sectors, constituencies, organization and communities, there is need for a constant and consistent dialogue on what needs to be done to achieve Vision 2022.