President Zuma released the new national strategic plan to fight HIV/AIDS last week. Key to the success of this plan will be how effectively the Zuma administration is able to implement it, and whether President Zuma will provide the leadership required to the plans turned into action.

Government’s previous HIV/AIDS plan was largely ineffective because it lacked robust monitoring by government. No one took responsibility for outcomes. For the new plan to succeed, government – in partnership with the provincial health departments – must put accountability measures at the heart of its efforts.

Only by establishing clearly defined targets and an effective monitoring apparatus, in which the relevant personnel are held accountable for meeting those targets, will the new plan achieve its goals.

According to the latest Antenatal Sentinel HIV and Syphilis Prevalence Survey, the percentage of pregnant women who tested positive for HIV/AIDS has exceeded 30%, matching levels last reached in 2005.

We are clearly not making the requisite progress in addressing this pandemic. The target of halving new infections – as the new plan calls for – is a bold one that needs support.

But it can only be achieved with consistent political leadership, reductions in the incidence of multiple concurrent sexual partnerships and an increase in condom use.

The launch of the plan offers government a fresh start. It offers President Zuma an opportunity to show leadership, and to demonstrate his government’s commitment to winning the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The DA will be carefully monitoring the roll-out of this plan to ensure that it delivers real change to the South African people, particularly those already living with HIV/AIDS

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