On the 8th August 2003, Cabinet requested the Ministry of Health to develop as a matter of urgency a detailed operational plan on an antiretroviral treatment programme by the end of September 2003.
Accordingly, I have appointed a National Task Team to co-ordinate the drafting of an operational plan on behalf of the government. The task team comprises mainly senior officials from the Department of Health and experts in the health sector to complement the skills of the Department of Health.
Dr Anthony D Mbewu, the Executive Director for Research at the Medical Research Council of South Africa, will chair the Task Team. Dr Nono Simelela, the Cluster Manager for HIV & AIDS, Tuberculosis and Sexually Transmitted Infections in the Department of Health will continue to co-ordinate the activities of this plan. Other members of the Task Team include:
- Dr Lindi Makubalo – Cluster Manager for Health Information Systems, Research Coordination, Epidemiological Surveillance, Monitoring and Evaluation.
- Ms Mandisa Hela – Director for Access to Affordable Medicines.
- Mrs Precious Matsoso – Registrar and CEO of the Medicines Control Council.
- Mr Vishal Brijlal – Director for Health Finance and Economics.
- Mrs Cynthia Mgijima – Director for Nutrition.
- Mrs Rose Mdlalose – Acting Cluster Manager: Human Resources.
- Mr Thanduxolo Doro – National Association of People Living with AIDS.
- Ms Hasina Subedar – Registrar and CEO of the South African Nursing Council.
- Prof Tanyane Mariba – Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Pretoria and Chairperson of the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
- Prof Barry Schoub – Professor of Medical Virology at the University of the Witwatersrand and Director of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
- Dr Ashraf Grimwood – A Clinician and National AIDS treatment expert.
- Philip Onyebujoh – A Clinical Immunologist coordinating TB/HIV Research at the World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva.
- Dr Mokhethi Radebe – Major General in the South African Military Health Services.
- Private Sector – (AID for AIDS Programme and Chamber of Mines)
Some members of the task team will comprise a core team and work full time on this project while others will assist to convene focused consultations with relevant stakeholders and also act as a reference advisory group to the Task Team.
In addition, the National HIV and AIDS Treatment Task Team will be assisted by a team of experts from the Clinton Foundation AIDS Initiative, established by former U.S. President, William Jefferson Clinton, which is led by Mr Ira Magaziner.
Over the next six weeks National HIV and AIDS Treatment Task Team will work closely with provincial health authorities and will consult broadly with national and international experts and various South African stakeholders.
During this period, the National HIV and AIDS Treatment Task Team will develop a detailed operational plan and implementation schedule. Amongst others, the Task Team will address the following areas in developing a plan for approval by cabinet:
- The development of provincial implementation plans, including a resource and training centre in each province to help ensure the delivery of high quality treatment and care, a schedule for rollout across district hospitals and health centres and a forecast of staffing requirements. These provincial operational plans will be based on the district health systems within each province.
- Procurement and/or production of necessary medications and consumables at as low a price as possible and an increase in the capacity and security of the drug distribution system.
- Upgrading of the national health laboratory system to handle a significant increase in diagnostic testing and monitoring of patient safety.
- Elaborate an integrated nutritional programme for people with HIV & AIDS.
- Development of a research agenda to support the programme, including engagement of South African academic centres and research institutions.
- Establishment of a robust system to monitor efficacy of intervention, adverse drug events, resistance and improvement and coordination of patient information systems.
- Development of staffing norms and standards for the delivery of antiretroviral therapy and assessment of human resource needs, including health system managers, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and counselors.
- Creation of a Programme Management Unit to coordinate the implementation of the programme and recommendations for its functions, structure, staffing and cost.
- Development of a communications plan for health providers and the public, including what to expect from the proposed treatment programme.
- Development of a detailed five-year programme budget and an estimated ten-year budget to implement the treatment programme.
- Development of a detailed implementation schedule.
- As a result of this work, the Task Team will produce an operational plan detailing the tasks to be performed, a schedule for their performance and a clear designation of responsibility for each task. This will help ensure that safe and effective HIV & AIDS treatment, care and support is brought to all South Africans.
— Dr ME Tshabalala-Msimang, Minister of Health, 20 August 2003