- Former president Jacob Zuma was responsible for the widespread distribution of antiretroviral drugs
- His administration also implemented a policy which combatted the spread of HIV from mother to child
- This has led to a drastic reduction in the infant mortality rate, from 48% per 1000 births in 2002 to 32% last year
Former president Jacob Zuma will be best remembered for corruption and state capture, for all the ills of the Zuma years his administration did have at least one truly great achievement: the radical reduction of the infant mortality rate.
Zuma reversed some of the damaged caused by the Mbeki years to the health system when he implemented the widespread distribution of antiretroviral drugs.
Zuma also implemented the prevention of mother-to-child transmission strategy (PMCTS). Pregnant women were encouraged to get tested for HIV in early pregnancy in order to lessen the chances of passing on the virus to their babies.
Briefly.co.za gathered that as a result of the strategy the infant mortality rate dropped from 48% per 1000 births in 2002 to 32% last year.
Before PMCTS babies with HIV often times died within the first six-months of their lives. This trend is now being reversed and the outlook for new-borns is much rosier.
Citizen.co.za reported that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has credited PMCTS with an overall increase in healthcare in South Africa.
Regardless of which administration is responsible for the turnaround the achievement remains remarkable and should be celebrated.
The country and its citizens have a moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable members of society and to ensure children have the best chance to make the best of their future.
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