Windhoek – The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Dr Stregomena Tax, says the bloc has registered progress in combatting the spread of HIV and Aids.
Addressing the Council of Ministers this week, she noted that there had been a 37.3 percent reduction in new HIV infections in recent times.
She, however, noted that while this was commendable, it was below the global target of reducing new infections by 59.4 percent.
Dr Tax said though countries should continue to prioritise the battle against COVID-19, sight should not be lost of the fact that HIV and Aids were also major health concerns.
“Measures to sustain the downward trend in new HIV infections are therefore very critical,” she added.
Dr Tax also urged the SADC Council of Ministers to pursue the Implementation Plan of the Regional Indicative Strategic and Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-30.
“In your meeting held in March 2021, you noted progress on the development of the Implementation Plan, and directed the Secretariat to finalise the Implementation Plan. Senior officials met in April 2021 to validate the Draft Implementation Plan, which will be tabled for your consideration,” she said.
In the food security arena, Dr Tax said SADC had experienced mixed fortunes with some member states recording bumper harvests while others could not meet their requirements.
“The normal to above-normal rainfall in the just ended season has improved crop production for 2020/2021 growing season. The above average rainfall in many parts of the region has also positively impacted forage for livestock, with significant improvement in vegetation, including in some areas which had previously been affected by recurrent droughts.
“However, there are some parts of the region where rainfall has been poor, as such, crop and livestock conditions have been negatively affected, increasing the likelihood of upsurge of food insecurity, particularly among vulnerable households. Member States are therefore encouraged to continue working together and supporting each other in these areas.”
Dr Tax bemoaned the slow pace with which some member states were implementing domestication of the SADC Gender Policy, which is meant to improve the participation of women in economic and political affairs.
“On gender and development, data provided by member states indicate that performance continues to be mixed across the region, with some member states showing constant positive trend, while others are losing their previous gains in gender parity in decision making positions; and others remaining behind,” she said.