By Simon Deng
The National Ministry of Health prioritized scaling up HIV/AIDS prevention efforts in a bid to meet the global prevention target.
“The government of South Sudan is committed to attaining UN 9595 target for control of HIV/AIDS epidemic through provision of quality health services using highly effective Anti-Retroviral drugs and therapy,” said Yolanda Awel Deng, the National Minister of Health during the launch of HIV incident management system at Dembesh hotel in Juba on Tuesday.
Deng said that about 174,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS in South Sudan.
Adding that only 35 percent of these know their HIV status, 25 percent are receiving ARV drugs.
The HIV/AIDS prevalence rate stands at 2.1 percent, according to the 2021 spectrum projection.
“The ministry of health in partnership with developmental partners will ensure to scale up comprehensive prevention, treatment, care and support services through a multi-sectoral and public health approach,” said Deng.
She said her ministry lacks robust data to guide the planning, and investment in community system.
Deng said they are also finding challenging to extend essential health services to those in need.
“We started with only three HIV/AIDS treatment sites in 2018, and by the end of 2021 we have 151 sites,” she revealed.
Victoria Anib Majur, the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Health, said HIV/AIDS has affected more women than men, adding that stigma remains the major challenge hindering access to health services.
“South Sudan has more than 172,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and again women are more affected than men. We continue to have lower number of people on treatment, stigma remains one of our biggest challenge hindering access to services,” said Majur.
Moses Mutebi, the Medical Officer at the World Health Organization (WHO), said South Sudan has registered some HIV/AIDS related deaths, especially among newly infected people.
“We are aware that progress has been made in the last decade, however, it is insufficient to achieve epidemic control by the year 2030, if we do not really change the trajectory, and also unless there are drastic measures that could be made,” said Mutebi.