Public / Media Statement: SADC Ministers of Health Conference Zimbabwe; 12th to 15th January 2015.


Speaking to recent Southern Africa Scorecards on Universal Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and HIV, in the context of SADC Ministers of Health Conference holding in Zimbabwe from 12th to 15th January 2015, Rotimi Sankore Editor of Afri-Dev.Info stated.

“The new scorecards on Universal Health, Sexual and Reproductive Health, and HIV, and the January 2015 SADC Ministers of Health Conference – provide an opportunity to emphasize that poor policy and investment in Reproductive and Sexual Health is still one of the biggest human security and health governance challenges facing Africa as manifested by the current state of HIV in Africa, and SADC especially.”<--break->“Despite significant progress, the unfortunate fact remains that the ten countries globally with the highest HIV prevalence are in Africa, and nine out of the ten are in SADC – with all of them still at high epidemic levels – Swaziland 27.4% prevalence; Lesotho 22.9%; Botswana 21.9%; South Africa 19.1%; Zimbabwe 15.0%; Namibia 14.3%; Zambia 12.5%; Mozambique 10.8%; and Malawi 10.3%.

[Note: Uganda is the only non-SADC country amongst top 10 globally with highest HIV prevalence at 7.4%].

“In addition to high prevalence – and in terms of absolute numbers, SADC countries constitute six of the ten countries globally with over 1 million people living with HIV in each countrySouth Africa 6.3 million; Mozambique 1.6 million; Tanzania 1.4 million; Zimbabwe 1.4 million; Zambia 1.1 million; and Malawi 1 million.”

[Note: The other four countries globally with over 1 million people each living with HIV are Nigeria 3.2 million; India 2.1 million; Kenya 1.6 million; and Uganda 1. 6 million.]

“To put this in context, all of SADC or Southern Africa with a population of less than 300 million (four times less than India’s population of 1.2 billion people) has an estimated 14.6 million people living with HIV – seven times more – than the much less 2.1 million people living with HIV in India.  

Most importantly, overall progress depends on rapid reduction in new HIV infections, which in turn requires greatly improved investment in Sexual and Reproductive Health Education and Services.  New HIV infections in SADC are currently at an estimated 812,000 annually – and five of the top ten countries globally for highest new annual infections are in SADC – South Africa 340,000, Mozambique 120,000, Tanzania 72,000, Zimbabwe 69,000, and Zambia 54,000”

[Note: Other 5 countries in top 10 globally for highest new annual infections are Nigeria (220,000), Uganda (140,000), India (130,000), Kenya (100,000), and Indonesia (80,000).]

Alongside this, and reflective of inadequate investment in treatment as prevention –  nine of the top ten countries globally with highest annual deaths from HIV are African, with five from SADC –  South Africa (200,000 deaths), Mozambique (82,000), Tanzania (78,000), Zimbabwe (64,000), Malawi (48,000) – demonstrating that poor Sexual and Reproductive Health and HIV are still amongst the biggest killers in Africa.”   

[Note: Non-SADC countries in joint top ten globally with most annual HIV deaths are Nigeria (210,000), India (130,000), Uganda (63,000), Kenya (58,000), and Ethiopia (45,000) ]

Given the dire situation – the due 2015 review and renewal of SADC Sexual & Reproductive Health, HIV, Gender and Youth frameworks provides a milestone opportunity for: SADC Secretariat, and Ministers of Health meeting January 12th to 15th 2015 to reinvigorate regional action, and commence urgent multisectoral consultation for the reviews – inclusive of non-state stakeholders and civil society; and also fast track improved domestic investment in multisectoral action and coordination of Health, Gender, Youth, and Education Sectors to improve Sexual and Reproductive Health.

The evidence is clear that for sustainable human security and human development to be achievable in Africa, Sexual and Reproductive Health must also remain a priority for the continent in the new global post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals.”

Sankore underlined further, the disturbing state of HIV and Sexual and Reproductive Health amongst youth in general, and girls and young women in particular:

Even more alarming is the high HIV prevalence amongst youth aged 15-24 years – which is an indicator of future trends, and new infections. Amongst girls and young women in SADC age 15 to 24 years HIV prevalence is as high as 10.5% in Lesotho, 12.4% in Swaziland and 13.1% in South Africa – in each case twice or thrice the prevalence amongst boys and young men in these countries.

“With Africa’s youth population projected to increase by an astronomical 1 billion by 2050 – in itself a failure of Sexual and Reproductive Health governance and Family Planning – there is significant danger that unless governments massively scale up Sexual and Reproductive Health interventions for young people – the inbuilt momentum of tens of millions of sexually active youth – combined with poor Sexual and Reproductive Health Education and Services could trigger a new wave of youth based HIV across  Africa.

This applies to SADC, as well as non-SADC countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, which are amongst the top ten countries globally with highest numbers of people living with HIV, top ten highest HIV mortality, and booming youth populations. 

Comparing the exemplary Ebola preparedness of SADC Ministers and governments to current Sexual and Reproductive Health Response to the HIV epidemic – Sankore emphasised that:

“It is not sustainable for any country, sub region or continent to continue with epidemic levels of new infections and deaths from any disease. In this case continued epidemic levels of HIV is a clear consequence of poor Sexual and Reproductive Health Education and Services, and poor protection of girls and women.

He called on SADC Health Ministers and governments to utilise opportunity of the due 2015 reviews to step up the Sexual and Reproductive Health response to HIV, similar to recent multiple inter-ministerial consultations on Ebola stating that –

“Not providing optimally funded Universal Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Education and Services in the midst of a HIV epidemic, is equivalent of not providing Universal Access to Ebola Prevention Information and Services in the midst of a looming or on going Ebola epidemic.”   

Statement Ends.

For further Information, kindly contact: media(a)

Special Note On Media Resources.

Click here for summary top 10 rankings table (Global/SADC) on:

  1. People Living With HIV & Annual New Infections
  2. HIV Adult Prevalence
  3. Young Girls & Youth HIV Prevalence
  4. Annual HIV Deaths