Govt defends underspent AIDS budget

The South African government has responded to a scathing attack by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party over the government's inability to spend 67 million rand (over US $10 million) in HIV/AIDS money.

Yogen Pillay, the chief director for strategic planning in the health department, said the unspent budget was not a sign of incompetence, as people in the department were working hard to maintain one of the biggest anti-AIDS drug rollout programmes in the world.

However, the DA's spokesperson for health, Dianne Kohler-Barnard, said the health system was undoubtedly failing.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation quoted Kohler-Barnard as saying: "It's most interesting to hear and look at what the countries around us are doing. Botswana seems to have done really well - they provide antiretrovirals to 50 percent of the people who need them, and Namibia provides 28 percent. Yet, here in South Africa, despite all expenditure, we are only providing treatment to between 7 [percent] and 10 percent of all those living with HIV/AIDS."