With more than a million employees in its payroll, the public service yesterday became the latest and biggest to launch the Government's nation-wide HIV/AIDS Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign since its introduction in 2010.
The campaign was launched by Deputy President, Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, at a colourful ceremony marked by song and dance at the Union Buildings. Among a host of public servants, their families, members of the healthcare fraternity, national and provincial government officials who attended, Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and the Director-General of DPSA Mr Mashwahle Diphofa also graced the event.
Minister Motsoaled, on behalf of Minister for Public Service and Administration, Ms Lindiwe Sisulu, delivered the address on the launch of Employee Health and Wellness Guidelines in the Public Service.
Dr Motsoaledi said, "The HCT Intensification launch event marks the beginning of a series of activities that will contribute to the attainment of the goals of getting 1, 3 million Public servants to test and know their status and persuade 5 others amongst their families and friends to test and know their status. As the single biggest employer in South Africa, with nearly 1.3 million public servants at national and provincial level, there is no doubt that the Public Service has a crucial role to play in mitigating the impact of HIV& Aids and TB as part of its overall focus on the health and well-being of its members and their dependants. It is only through a healthy, dedicated, productive and responsive workforce that we can collectively work towards the attainment of efficient and effective service delivery.
In his keynote address, Deputy President Motlanthe said that over 20 million people had come forth to be screened and tested for various diseases since the President launched the national HTC campaign in 2010.
"This campaign has indeed been successful. However, our goal is to ensure that people get tested and screened at least once a year and therefore we must find ways of sustaining the momentum. Today, we are launching the intensification of the HCT campaign in the public sector to do just that. As such it is crucial that the government, as the leading partner in the drive for universal HCT programmes, lead by example."
The Deputy President said it was important that government steps up campaigns and programmes within the public sector ensuring that each employee is encouraged to know their status, to encourage their relatives to do the same and promote a healthy life style overall.
"A healthy, productive and committed public service is thus critical to the overall success of government in the attainment of its broad development agenda. Let us continue to support and encourage one another to live healthy lives. Let us lead by example and work together to create and sustain a public service that we can all be proud of," he said.
The campaign's main objective is to mobilize Public Servants and their dependents to test for HIV and Aids including TB.
South Africa's celebrity physician, Dr Victor Ramathesele directed proceedings while various choirs, including Departments of Environmental Affairs, Correctional Services, Mineral Resources and Presidency, rendered entertainment.