SELEBI-PHIKWE: The District Multi Sectoral AIDS Committee (DMSAC) has no technical knowhow to spend the funds it is allocated every year, and the money often returns to government coffers.
“About 30 percent of unused funds are returned to government at the end of the financial year, while some projects are not implemented. We cannot achieve anything if we do not collaborate on these issues,” said District AIDS Coordinator Samuel Kenaape
Giving an overview of the district’s response to HIV/AIDS during the New Directions in Global Health Seminar that ended on Wednesday, Kenaape said DMSAC could not achieve its mandate with members dragging their feet. His worry was while plans are done and funding sourced from government, implementation capacity is still limited.
Kenaape noted that DMSAC has over the years ensured a multi-sectoral approach to addressing issues of HIV/AIDS. He said they also continue to put more emphasis on Evidence Based Planning approach, which helps in addressing real issues affecting the district.
“For this process to be effective we need to ensure that we strengthen our systems so that we have available quality data to inform us effectively and efficiently. I therefore call upon all stakeholders to up their game for us to achieve our intended objectives,” he added.
Also concerned was the deputy District Commissioner Orapeleng Modimoopelo, who noted that many organisations that are members of the DMSAC are not active in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
He added that they do not know what individual government departments and non-governmental organisations are doing in their respective institutions.
He said this results in failure by the DMSAC.
Modimoopelo expressed worry that most NGOs that play a pivotal role in the fight against the disease are closing shop due to financial constraints. He appealed to donors to assist in funding such organisations so that they can continue.
“Big companies must also include NGOs funding in their corporate social responsibilities. There is also a common saying among the people that they fear non-communicable diseases than HIV/AIDS. We need to intensify our education so that people do not relax just because ARVs are available,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kenaape had earlier highlighted that Selebi-Phikwe has the highest prevalence rate of 27.5 percent as shown by the BIAS IV, which is a one percent increase from the 26.5 percent from the previous survey. He said prevalence is high in females compared to males.
“While this is a cause for concern there is need not to lose hope and in fact there are some positives to draw from such statistics,” he said.
He explained that the prevalence gives information of the number of people already infected by HIV therefore a consistent number can only mean the same people are still living with the virus. “This will subsequently mean that our intervention strategies on behavioural change are yielding fruits and our programmes are being effective,” he said.
He said government wants to achieve a zero new infection by next year and said the prevalence rate with an increase of one percent can also indicate that Selebi-Phikwe is achieving the zero new infections mandate.
“We should also note that 1 percent increase could mean we have had HIV positive people transferred in the last years and a few numbers of new infections,” he noted.