For the new NSP to be a success, it is essential that provincial, district and local AIDS councils (PACs, DACs, LACs) start playing a more active part in the fight against HIV, TB and STIs. These structures are essential to strengthening the partnership between government, various stakeholders and communities. They are the mechanisms by which national strategy can trickle down to communities, and community-level concerns can be escalated back up to the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC).
Unfortunately, many of these structures are not yet fully functional. Reasons for this include: a lack of understanding of the mandate of AIDS councils; lack of coordination and management skills; unbalanced representation of sectors; resource shortages; and lack of accountability.
During 2011 TAC aimed to play a leading role in reviving the PACs and DACs in the six model districts across South Africa where TAC has district offices. TAC district leadership used the HIV counselling and testing (HCT) campaign as a vehicle to revive AIDS councils, requesting meetings with provincial premiers and health authorities during planning for the launch of the HCT campaign. Through such engagements, the Eastern Cape PAC, the Mopani DAC, the Mpumalanga PAC, the Gert Sibande DAC, the Tzaneen LAC and the multi-sectoral action team (MSAT) in Cape Town conducted planning meetings in which TAC participated.
In August 2011 TAC and SECTION27 held a three-day workshop for 30 key TAC leaders representing TAC and people living with HIV/AIDS in either the local, district, provincial and/or national AIDS councils.
The aim of the meeting was to evaluate and give recommendations on:
- the roles and responsibilities of AIDS councils;
- financing and measurable performance indicators;
- the role of civil society and TAC’s allies; and
- the role of TAC in AIDS councils.
The workshop made substantial recommendations on restructuring SANAC and strengthening AIDS councils. These recommendations were later submitted to the drafting team for the new NSP. Subsequent to the workshop, TAC has been requested by district mayors to conduct training on the roles and responsibilities of AIDS councils in Gert Sibande, Mopani, Umgungundlovu and OR Tambo.
TAC will continue to advocate for well-functioning provincial and district AIDS councils.