Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi visited Cotlands on Friday 24 May 2013 to congratulate the non-profit organisation on reaching zero Aids related deaths in over three years.
Cotlands opened South Africa’s first Aids hospice for children in 1996. The palliative care unit recorded a death almost every week in its earlier years as this was the only prognosis for a child infected with HIV at that time.
In 2003 Cotlands privately funded ARV treatment for children in its care. In 2004 the organisation began receiving state funded ARV’s which proved to be highly successful.
Together with the government’s prevention of mother to child transmission programme and Gauteng’s effective rolling out of ARVs, Cotlands began seeing a noticeable decline in infected children. Cotlands has also noted the positive effects of treatment on infected children and has concluded that children who respond well to ARV treatment are able to live longer and much healthier lives.
Over the past three years Cotlands has recorded zero HIV/AIDS related deaths. This has resulted in a landmark decision to close its Aids hospice and replace it with a child care unit for abandoned babies needing adoption.
Minister Motsoaledi praised Cotlands saying, “This is a testament to the positive changes that can be made when Government and the NGO sector work together. Cotlands’ achievement is South Africa’s success and we should be proud of the incredible work being done here.”
Cotlands CEO Jackie Schoeman added, “We never thought the day would come when we would have to close our hospice because the service was no longer needed. It is through government’s dedication to fighting the scourge of HIV and the hard work of our staff that this dream has become a reality.”
The Minister added that while there are still many challenges, we should celebrate what has been accomplished and use these success stories to motivate and propel the country forward.
Schoeman provided Minister Motsoaledi with a tour of the facility explaining the changes that have been made.
“We are now able to move away from survival mode into an approach that provides children with the opportunity to thrive. Through our early learning lessons children are given fundamental skills that will aid in their holistic wellbeing,” said Schoeman.
The Minister concluded his visit with inspiring words to staff spurring them on to continue their valued work.
Photos of the Minister’s visit can be found on www.facebook.com/Cotlands