The Ministers of Health and Ministers Responsible for HIV and AIDS in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Member States on 9th November, 2017 held their meeting in Polokwane, South Africa under the theme; "Accelerating progress towards Universal Health Coverage".
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Health of the Republic of South Africa, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who is also the Chairperson of the SADC Ministers of Health and Ministers responsible for HIV and AIDS said the inclusion of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a target under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 on Health reflects the very spirit of the new agenda, which emphasises poverty alleviation, equity and social inclusion.
Dr Motsoaledi said the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development provide an opportunity for the international community to renew its commitment to the improvement of health outcomes which are a central component to sustainable development.
He said: "we will not achieve our development goals if we do not invest in human resources for health".
On her part, the SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Corporate Affairs, Ms. Emilie Mushobekwa called for strong collaboration to prevent and treat communicable diseases such as Malaria, Tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS that continue to negatively affect the SADC region.
Ms Mushobekwa said there is an urgent need to address pressing Public Health priority problems of the region in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to which SADC Member States have committed.
On HIV and AIDS, Ms Mushobekwa said SADC has made a number of commitments in addition to the SDGs, citing the signing of the 2003 Maseru Declaration to combat HIV and AIDS by the SADC Heads of State and Government and the subsequent establishment of the SADC HIV and AIDS Special Fund to support regional interventions to compliment national responses. She also indicated that SADC Member States have made commendable efforts. Although new cases of HIV infections have been reduced, they still remain very high. Ending new infections requires that "no one should be left behind "; all populations should be part of the response; and the increase of domestic funding for HIV prevention.
The meeting drew participants from a range of partners and stakeholders in the heath and HIV and AIDS sectors that included the African Union, World Health Organization, United Nations Children's Fund, African Leaders Malaria Alliance and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS.