Johannesburg - Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says despite achievements in prolonging lives through a massive rollout of ARV treatment, the Africa still has a long way to go in combating the scourge of HIV/AIDS. 

Motsoaledi on Monday addressed delegates from China and various African countries at a China-Africa Health Ministers' conference in Pretoria.

The multinational gathering is aimed at promoting the South Africa-China high level cultural People-to-People Exchange programme.

Under the theme Commitment To Action, Motsolaedi said the heightened emphasis on prevention, treatment and care over the last decade has seen the rate of new HIV infections is slowing down. 

"More infected people are receiving antiretroviral drugs.We must move forward to implement some of our flagship projects, including the production of generic drugs for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria (among other things)," Motsoaledi said adding while the Continent was now stronger than ever in joining forces and promoting excellence in healthcare, it could not afford be complacent.

"Destiny has brought us to this crossroad where we as Africans can no longer afford the time for missed opportunities nor the luxury of multiple choices. We must move only in one direction and that is upwards. We must do so with the resolute determination to succeed," said Motsoaledi. 

He further said: "We should not be lured into laxity and a false sense of comfort. We are still far from reaching the commanding heights."

Motsoaledi pointed out the one area that vividly summed up Africa’s development challenges, which is health. 

"As we meet today, new diseases have emerged at unprecedented rates, while old diseases such as cholera and tuberculosis have made aggressive comebacks," he said.

Motsoaledi said strong health systems were important to provide effective measures to contain and eradicate infectious diseases of old, and provide the first line of defense against emerging pandemics.

He applauded the country's strong relations with China and said the conference should be used by African countries to reflect on  their aspirations in improving the livelihoods of its people through the rapid eradication of hunger as set out in the African Union Agenda of 2063.

Politics and Development Hub