In conjunction with the millennium development goals, South Africa has set its specific targets. In its report in 2005, the South African government stated that it has identified earlier deadlines for the actions intended to achieve the development goals and even so, it is on schedule and on track in its commitment towards the millennium development goals. Again, in 2007, South Africa said that it is on schedule in its efforts to meet the millennium development goals.
However, while there may be progress in the achievement of these goals, with the restructuring of the South African National AIDS Council and a new AIDS plan, continuous policymaking that takes into consideration areas for improvement from the extent of progress reached is necessary. (UNDP, 2007) Although, there are challenges in achieving these goals, South Africa has a strong chance in fulfilling its commitment in terms of resources when compared to other African countries but there may be need to strengthen its policymaking.
The millennium development goals, as guides for collective action against the common problems experienced by different states, served as the basis of policy planning of governments and point of reference in assessing progress. Often reports of governments on development efforts refer to the millennium development goals and the 2015 target. However, according to Sachs (2004), for health and other social-sector millennium development goals, there is lack of clarity over the exact policy options to meet these goals by 2015.
Governments need to determine the options by themselves and select the best option, which strongly relies on the extent of commitment and priorities of governments. As much as the development of the millennium development goals is a milestone, how governments can achieve these goals through policy development comprises an emerging issue. Many countries remain in the stage of trial-and-error over the solutions to their health and social problems.
Investigating this is important because the outcome could lead efforts closer to specific policy options, which are necessary in meeting the millennium development goals by 2015 for countries such as South Africa facing a serious problem on HIV/AIDS. Without addressing this issue, countries may fail to identify effective and responsive policies. This affects the likelihood of achieving the millennium development goals with only six years remaining.
The current state of knowledge on millennium development goals and policymaking revolve around the recognition that the millennium development goals influence policymaking for long-term development in UN member countries such as South Africa and the development policies implemented by the countries have an impact on the achievement of the collective goals. The millennium development goals create the opportunity for the promotion and incorporation of development priorities in the eight areas into the development plans of national governments.
However, the persisting challenge is how national governments can convert this opportunity into policies that support the achievement of the development plans of countries that in turn means the fulfilment of the collective goals. This comprises the current knowledge gap. Research on this knowledge gap by considering the policy context of South Africa on the specific problem of HIV/AIDS would provide critical insight into the manner that the country has transformed the opportunity into policies and the contribution of these policies to the fulfilment of the collective goals.