One of the country’s most respected medical doctors, Professor Jerry Coovadia, yesterday called on the government to supply anti-retroviral drugs for HIV positive mothers.
“Providing anti-retroviral drugs to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission is less than the absolute minimum. The mothers should also get the drugs,” said Coovadia.
“If you treat mothers, you invest in their families’ health and delay orphanhood,” said Coovadia, who heads research at the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine at the University of Natal.
He was addressing an inter-faith meeting in Durban to support the Treatment Action Campaign’s (TAC) court bid to get the anti-AIDS drug nevirapine available to all pregnant HIV positive women nationwide.
Describing as “appalling” the debate between President Thabo Mbeki and the Medical Research Council over what the leading cause of death in this country is, Coovadia said that AIDS was the “overwhelming cause of death” in children in KwaZulu-Natal.
“I cannot imagine that our nation can remain intact and that we can have a future of peace and dignity if we don’t exert every energy possible to see that the five million HIV positive South Africans have access to treatment and care,” concluded Coovadia.
Representatives from the Catholic and Methodist churches, as well as the Hindu and Muslim faiths expressed their support for TAC’s court case.
– Health-e News Service.