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Strengthening South Africa's response to AIDS and health

With over 6.4 million people living with HIV, South Africa has the greatest AIDS burden in the world. This and other historical factors have placed huge stresses on the public health system.

days saved using mobile phones to instantly transfer health data from clinic to national database
reduction in mother-to-child HIV transmission rate
in three years


The South African government has begun an ambitious health improvement program that aims to provide universal high-quality healthcare, free at the point of use.

In 2010, the UK government launched the five-year program Strengthening South Africa’s Revitalised Response to AIDS and Health (SARRAH), which was implemented by our health consultants.


Mott MacDonald was retained to manage the SARRAH program.

Key work included support for the National Department of Health’s program to contract private-sector general practitioners to work in the public sector.

Through the program, we provided partners with assistance for projects that increase access to medicines, improve the health information system, and strengthen planning and financial management in the health sector. SARRAH also supported strategies to improve access to health services in poorer parts of the country, improve their quality, establish independent regulatory bodies, and develop a National Health Insurance scheme.

SARRAH worked with the South African National AIDS Council, the national body that coordinates all partners working in HIV and AIDS, by assisting the Secretariat in governance and organizational development and supporting its monitoring and evaluation unit.


In South Africa the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV fell from 3.5% in 2010 to 2.7% in 2011. SARRAH played a part in this success by managing the National Department of Health's Accelerated Plan, which worked to improve national services to prevent HIV transmission from mothers to their children.

SARRAH helped the National Department of Health develop policy on National Health Insurance and pilot this major step towards universal health access for South Africans.

In August 2012, South Africa’s National Assembly passed the Quality Health Bill, which enabled the establishment of the country’s first Office of Health Standards Compliance. This achievement was the culmination of two years of intensive technical support from SARRAH.

SARRAH also piloted a health project using mobile phones to instantly transfer health data from clinics to South Africa’s national database, instead of the 129 days it takes to transfer data manually.

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