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Exposure to HIV may contribute to delays and failure of the development of new-borns in the in the absence of compensatory treatment provided by extra stimulation. The earlier the children are given treatment the better as this will assist with the development and preventing HIV. It is recommended that babies born to mothers with HIV be tested between 14 - 21 days after birth, at 1 - 2 months, and again at 4 - 6 months. Testing should be done using virologic HIV which looks directly for the virus in the blood. Late initiation may result in some developmental improvement but not total reversal of neurological impairments.

Prof Joanne Potterton from WITS shared clinical results gathered during consultations. The outcomes show that all facets of development affected are present as early as 4 months in infants, gross motor development and expressive language are mostly affected and they recommend that a basic home stimulation programme taught to caregivers is effective. In pre-school children, all facets of development are delayed (in up to 50% of children), gross motor is better than in infants, visuospatial perception, cognition and speech are the most affected in pre-school children.

Gina Rencken from UKZN discussed the following methods of intervention to promote the children’s optimal function; massage therapy improves behaviour in neonates born to HIV + mothers and improved attention to child’s early development and psychosocial needs may prevent developmental delays.

The education system is the future of early childhood development. The society has to be trained and informed about the treatment measures that they need to follow when dealing of children infected and exposed to HIV.

Is Social Protection the Southern African Answer?

This was a question posed by Dr Lucie Cluver to illustrate the impact that money and social support has on the progress of HIV prevention and adherence amongst young people.

“Despite extensive efforts, adolescent HIV remains a major problem. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 575 adolescents are infected with HIV each day (UNAIDS, 2014), and rates of AIDS deaths amongst adolescents are rising (UNICEF, 2013). There is now strong evidence of the importance of structural drivers of the HIV-epidemic amongst young people. As a result, increasing policy and research interest has focused on social protection as a possible solution to prevention.

“But there are key questions and debates around this are: should cash transfers be unconditional or conditioned? Are cash transfers enough or do we need cash, care and schooling support? How do biomedical interventions work with social protection? How are we going to pay for social protection? There are also new questions and new evidence around whether social protection can address new challenges such as ART and PMTCT adherence,” said Dr Lucie Cluver.

Dr Lucie Cluver presented social protection solutions that can be used to prevent the spread of HIV amongst young people and answer the posed questions above. She proved that child grant reduces the incidence of transactional sex and age disparate sex for girls, children who receive free school meals, get support from their teachers and parents have a lower risk of being vulnerable. It has been proved that 40 percent of adolescents on ART are struggling to manage it because of lack of social support therefore Dr Cluver believes that if these solutions are combined they can improve the number of infected adolescent being able to manage ART.

The 7th SA AIDS Conference was officially launched at the ICC Durban. Conference chair, Dr Nono Simelela welcomed the speakers and delegates, and set the tone for the Conference with a powerful speech. She said that the conference is a meeting for people to reflect on the progress that South Africa has made in reducing the impact and spreading of AIDS. 

The conference is gathering of a community that is committed to meeting the needs of South Africans living with AIDS and ensuring that South Africa eradicates HIV related infections. She also acknowledged the challenges that our society is facing in achieving Zero New Infections and triumph against AIDS.

Ambassador Patrick H. Gaspard represented PEPFAR and its commitment to South Africa in the fight against HIV. He shared the victories that the PEPFAR programme has helped South Africa to achieve and the incredible work done through the South African National Health Department. The Ambassador recognised that although PEPFER and South Africa has made significant progress, there is a lot of work to be done to get control of the epidemic by 2020 and ending the epidemic by 2030.

Nkhensani Mavasa from TAC had a different view about South African’s progress in attending to the needs of people living with HIV. Although she agreed that there is significant progress, she also argued that the healthcare system is dysfunctional at ground level. Local communities have understaffed clinics, stock-outs of medicines and burdened with long queues. She added that South Africa has the biggest Antiretroviral programme in the world but people are still dying of curable diseases such as TB. She acknowledged that South Africa has good policies and programmes to deal with AIDS but they are not being implemented correctly in local communities. Nkhensani called for the government to take charge in ensuring that the needs of local people are met.

Siphokazi Mthathi was the voice of the voiceless. She emphasised the fact that HIV epidemic is getting worse and the efforts to reducing it are being undermined because there is still criminalisation of young people, and chances of people getting treatment are still determined by their age and where they live. She concluded that the government and the healthcare providers must own up and lead by example.

Acknowledging the issues raised by Mavasa and Mthathi, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “we must renew our commitment and determination on the social compact which has been forged over many years of shared struggle and refocus our commitment of to the achieving an HIV free generation by 2030.” He also said that; “we will not overcome this epidemic if we do not work side by side and accept that we have a responsibility as government, employees, society, scientific forums, youth groups and researchers. We have a responsibility as parents, spouses, partners, mentors and role models to ourselves and to others.”

Efficiently - doing a function with the least amount of effort and time

Monitoring and Evaluation of services in the social service field is required to ensure that the services we render to our client system have an impact on their lives and the problem area we are addressing.  We need to ensure that our services are relevant, continuously improve our services and to determine whether existing interventions should be strengthened or discarded. If we continuously monitor and evaluate our services we promote substantive accountability and we have a clear understanding whether we should reposition our services and intervention or re-plan our interventions. We learn what works, what doesn’t work and why it is working or not working.

Aforementioned represent various theoretical purposes of Monitoring and Evaluation. It could be summarised by saying we have no right interfering/intervening in clients lives, creating expectations of improvement or possible solutions to problem areas, if we do not have a reasonable certainty that we are effecting positive Change.

Having said this, many Social Service Organisations still do not implement basic monitoring and evaluation processes. The reasons given are varied, but most often boils down to lack of funding, time or human capacity. These reasons are valid but begs the question – why deliver/repeat/replicate and expand a service that you have no idea or evidence or corroboration that it is actually working and having an impact. ( As most of us claim to be professionals, the arguments,” I can see it” or “I know” does not do it for me)

So why the heading. An example: If you are going to render a service  - for example a 8 week life skills group, but have no idea on whether you service has any impact – you are basically wasting your time and the time of your client(no evidence of effectiveness, impact etc.).  So why not waste time efficiently and only have a two week life skills group.  You will still not have any evidence of the impact, relevance or effectiveness of your intervention – but at least you spent limited time in confirming the unknown.

Pauline Roux is the Managing Partner at The Organisational Puzzle,

President of the Republic of South Africa, His Excellency J.G. Zuma,
 
Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Jeff Radebe,
 
Minister of Arts and Culture, Nathi Mtethwa,
 
Deputy Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Buti Manamela,
 
Deputy Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams,
 
Deputy Executive Chairperson of the NYDA, Kenny Morolong and the Board of the NYDA,
 
President of the Pan African Youth Union, Francine Lumunya,
 
Premier of the Gauteng Province, David Makhura,
 
Executive Mayor of Tshwane Metro Municipality, Councillor Kgosientso Ramokgopa,
 
Distinguished Guests,
 
Fellow South Africans,
 
The major factor of hope is the youth. In 1976, the youth of our country gave hope to a crying nation, struggling to break free from racial oppression. Today, the hope of country lies once again in the youth to ensure peace and prosperity for all.
 
As young South Africans we must accept the responsibilities of today that go with the opportunities of today. The responsibility to end racism and all forms of discrimination. The responsibility to end poverty and class inequality. The responsibility to care for the elderly. The responsibility to ensure that our people have basic services. The responsibility to be educated, productive and contributing citizens. These are our responsibilities as the youth of today. We are pleased that more young leaders are in Cabinet and Parliament than ever before and we must salute them for leading us with great humility and idealism.
 
As the youth, we must talk about racism and we must end it. We must talk about class inequalities and we must end it. Let us not be swayed by the dictates of past generations and the divisive elements in our society. Let us make up our own minds and declare unequivocally that race and class shall be a thing of the past. The power of our diversity can only lead to greater socio-economic advances and more opportunities for all to prosper. Thus we must unite in action. In the lake of our democracy lurks the two-headed serpent of racism and tribalism. It is only when this poisonous serpent is destroyed and buried in the graveyard of Apartheid sins that we will truly experience the joy and pleasures of peace, freedom and democracy.
 
Government and the private sector have an equal responsibility to develop our youth. Every government department must implement a youth development programme. Every government department must have a youth directorate. Every local municipality must implement a YouthBuild Infrastructure Development Programme to train young artisans. The private sector must boldly invest in youth and fulfill youth development programmes for the empowerment of our youth.
 
Since inception in 2009, the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) has assisted more than six million young South Africans with some kind of product or service to better their lives. The NYDA Business Grant Programme for youth-owned micro enterprises has been a great success and the Solomon Mahlangu Scholarship continues to promote a culture of excellence by rewarding poor and rural youth who excel in their studies.
 
As the NYDA, will continue to prioritise education and entrepreneurship programmes. We remain focused on our mandate to mainstream youth development into society and to facilitate youth development with all sectors of society. In this way youth development is becoming the business of all social partners. We will move with speed to develop the Integrated Youth Development Strategy for the implementation of the National Youth Policy 2020. This policy will provide the guiding framework for all social partners on matters of youth development. We will work tirelessly to ensure that a minimum of one million young South Africans enroll onto National Youth Service Programmes by 2020. By so doing, we will make community service fashionable among the youth of our country.
 
In celebrating 60 years of the freedom charter we must celebrate the progress made in opening the doors of learning and culture for all. As we do so, we must acknowledge that many deserving young people still struggle to access education and higher education in particular. We must celebrate the great strides we have made in promoting a culture of entrepreneurship among the youth of today while we acknowledge that many young aspiring and established entrepreneurs still lack the means to be job creators and future captains of industry. We must celebrate the defeat of the Apartheid regime and in doing so we must acknowledge that much more needs to be done for the gains of democracy to be felt by the toiling masses of our country.
 
Former President Nelson Mandela once said, "I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made mistakes along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can rest only for a moment, for with freedom comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not yet ended."
 
Let us be like Madiba and continue the long walk to peace and plenty for all.
 
I thank you.

  • Yershen Pillay is the executive chairperson of the National Youth Development Agency.  

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