Seychelles' AIDS Council to close down, Public Health Authority to take over functions
The National AIDS Council was launched in 2002 and became a legal entity in December 2013. ( National AIDS Council/Facebook)
The functions of the National AIDS Council will be carried out by the Public Health Authority once legal proceedings are finalised to repeal the National AIDS Council Act approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on Wednesday.
Mandated to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as address related matters, the National AIDS Council was launched in 2002 and became a legal entity in December 2013 with the coming into force of the Act.
In a first press conference which will be done weekly following Cabinet meetings, Vice President, Ahmed Afif, told reporters that the decision will allow the government to better manage and allocate its resources.
He said that since HIV/AIDS became a concern for the country, things have evolved, and other legal frameworks have come into place.
"At the time, HIV/AIDS was something that many people did not understand and did not have all the mechanisms in place to deal with it. As such the government took the decision to establish a council tasked with coordinating efforts to contain the disease. In 2013 the Health Care Agency came into effect, followed by the Public Health Authority in 2015," added Afif.
Currently, the Health Care Agency has the responsibility to carry out all the HIV/AIDS tests, while the Communicable Disease Control Unit (CDCU) provides all the treatments.
"There are other diseases that don't have a council, not because we do not think it is necessary, but because there are already organs doing the job. We feel that with all the developments and knowledge that we have acquired in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is no longer necessary to have the council. Its mandate can be dealt with by the Public Health Authority, and we can use our resources in a better manner," he said.
Afif also outlined that no staff will be made redundant and no staff will be worse off in terms of remuneration as a result of the transition.
For the law to be repealed, it will have to go before the National Assembly.
In a short interview following the press conference, the chief executive of the council, Anne Gabriel, shared with SNA that for the time being the council is still operational until the Act is repealed.
"We are still holding discussions on how things will operate once the Act is repealed but what matters most, is that the work continues," said Gabriel.
In a press communique from the State House on Thursday, it was outlined that the decision to repeal the Act "is part of the reorganisation and restructuring of the Ministry of Health with the aim of improving efficiency and to address the HIV/AIDS problem in a cohesive manner."
Afif shared that "no restructuring of the ministry was discussed yesterday and most of the discussions were geared toward the repeal of the AIDS Council."
"We need to have institutions and agencies that work in a coordinated manner and that deliver to the expectation of the public, and that there are high standards. We know that we have a lot of challenges in this area but the government will continue to work on these. Should there be a need to restructure the ministry, this will come at the appropriate time," said Afif.
Top score on Mo Ibrahim Index
During the same press conference, the Vice President talked about the Cabinet's discussions on the results of the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance recently published, where Seychelles scored 73.4 out of a possible 100 points, coming in second behind Mauritius with 74.9 scores.
"The only criteria in which Mauritius scored higher than Seychelles is the one that deals with putting in place systems allowing business to be conducted faster, with the necessary infrastructures. We need to work on improving the registration of companies and make things work faster to get permits and deal with bureaucracy. I am confident that in the months to come, Seychelles will do better," said Afif.
"Seychelles has over the years continued to make improvements - in 2019 our score was 71.6, in 2020 72.9, and in 2021, 73.4. With the effort of everyone, we can continue to make improvements," he continued.