Umgubudla: a fast-track programme towards an AIDS-free Swaziland
The presentation of the Swaziland HIV Investment Case (SHIC) is a demonstrated commitment by the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland to work towards His Majesty King Mswati III’s vision of attaining an AIDS-free Swaziland by 2022. An objective that is in line with the national vision to attain ‘First World Status’ by 2022. For the Kingdom, managing, containing and ending AIDS is the most critical obligation, in recognition that HIV is the largest single catastrophe that the Swazi society has ever witnessed and suffered. Having witnessed over 50,000 AIDS-related deaths, with 200,000 Swazi citizens living with HIV, and almost half of children under 18 years either orphaned or vulnerable, AIDS is an epidemiological and economic challenge for the country.
The message of ending AIDS signals that we are now ready to confront the various socio-economic complexities of the disease. In short, we are looking at HIV investments in a business sense; and for Swaziland this should not be complex as our efforts so far have borne results. We have, for instance, virtually eliminated mother to child transmission of HIV among infants under 2 months, expanded care and support to OVC in the communities, and transitioned the epidemic into a manageable chronic illness. However, these efforts have not been enough to turn the tide as new infections continue to outpace new enrolments into treatment and young women remain the most HIV-prone group as well as the fiscal pressure of the response that is rising continuously.
The SHIC calls for a re-doubling of our efforts. It proposes tested critical game changers in five extended National Multisectoral HIV and AIDS Framework (eNSF) programme areas that hold the potential to deliver the maximum possible impacts on HIV in Swaziland. The SHIC also calls for bridging the traditional dichotomy between HIV treatment and prevention, making tough financial decisions using an investment approach, the re-engagement of communities, strengthening service delivery systems and developing cost-effective and financially viable HIV response options.
The SHIC demonstrates that the end of AIDS is not just a pipedream but is within our grasp. Implementing these game changers comes with a huge initial financial investment that requires national commitment and global partnership.