Mayors and their representatives from around South Africa are demonstrating their commitment to accelerating the HIV and TB responses in their respective municipalities.
“Half of the world's population will be living in cites by 2030. That means we have to act now if we want to break the trajectory of the AIDS and TB epidemics in cities by 2030,” said James Nxumalo, Mayor of eThekwini Municipality.
Almost half of all new HIV infections in South Africa, half of all people living with HIV, and more than three quarters of people living with HIV in need of HIV treatment live in just 19 municipalities in South Africa. If these municipalities implement the Fast-Track approach to achieve the 90-90-90 targets for HIV and TB, it is feasible that South Africa could achieve ending AIDS and TB as public health threats by 2030.
“We fought apartheid and we need that same vigour to address the HIV and TB epidemics in South Africa,” said Thabo Manyoni, Mayor of Manguang and Chairperson of the South African Local Government Association.
Mayors and their representatives from key municipalities gathered in Durban today to sign the Paris Declaration, a pledge of their commitment t to implement multi-sectoral municipal plans to reach the 90-90-90 Fast-Track targets for HIV and TB.
“I urge Mayors and Counsellors to reach out to their communities. Speak to them; encourage them. We must embrace all stakeholders in our communities. To do that we need a far-reaching multi-sectoral HIV and TB response,” said Dr Gwen Ramagkopa, Chairperson of the South African National AIDS Council's Board of Trustees.
Madam Tobeka Zuma, First Lady of South Africa and UNAIDS Special Advocate for the Health of Women, Youth and Children reminded political leadership not to forget about young women and girls in South Africa, who represent a disproportionate burden of new HIV infections every year.
“I call on each and every one of us to put women and girls of the centre of the development agenda, including health. We need to focus our energy and resources to invest in strategies that will help reduce new HIV infections among young women and girls,” said Mrs Zuma.
The Paris Declaration was first signed in Paris, France, on World AIDS Day 2014, where UNAIDS, in partnership with IAPAC, UN-Habitat and Mairie de Paris, brought together 29 city representatives from all over the world to launch the Fast-Track Cities initiative. Since then, the declaration has had over 200 signatories.
“To quote Aaron Motsoaledi, the Minister of Health in South Africa, 'I challenge Mayors to become health leaders and innovators',” said Erasmus Morah, UNAIDS Country Director.