13 June 2019
DURBAN – The Global Fund applauds the launch of South Africa’s new three-year plan to tackle gender inequality and human rights-related barriers to HIV and tuberculosis health services in the country.
The implementation plan supports the country’s wider National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections. The plan recognizes that within South Africa’s strong leadership in the fight against HIV and TB, there remain important gaps in reaching the most affected populations. Stigma, discrimination, and marginalization of vulnerable groups such as men who have sex with men, transgender people, prisoners, sex workers, adolescent girls and young women, and people who inject drugs prevent many from accessing the health care they need.
The South African National AIDS Council launched the plan in Durban, hours ahead of the opening of the 9th South Africa AIDS Conference on 12 June. Government officials, activists and representatives of key populations gathered for the launch in the Gugu Dlamini Memorial Park, named for a young activist who was murdered for sharing her HIV status in 1998, a symbol of the stigma the plan seeks to address.
“I’ve seen first-hand the devastation that human rights violations, stigma, discrimination and gender-based violence can bring,” said Kate Thomson, Head of the Global Fund’s Community, Rights and Gender department. “With this plan, South Africa is showing great leadership in addressing the human rights and gender-related barriers that prevent many people from accessing lifesaving health care and service. We will only end HIV and TB when we make sure that everyone in need has access to health care, without stigma, fear or discrimination.”
The plan, which is supported by the Global Fund, has been shaped by the extensive baseline assessment studies into human rights and gender barriers to services across 20 countries as part of the Global Fund’s “Breaking Down Barriers” initiative. The initiative aims to identify the root causes of human rights and gender-related barriers, what is needed to comprehensively address them, and the costs involved.
The Global Fund is investing almost US$370 million in South Africa in the current three-year-cycle, including an element of catalytic funding that will help support the new implementation plan. The plan targets districts with high HIV and TB burden, focusing on legal and human rights issues across seven areas of activity: reducing stigma; training health workers; sensitizing law makers; legal literacy campaigns; strengthening legal services; monitoring laws and policies and reducing gender inequality and gender-based violence.