TAC call for and end to stand off with Government

BARCELONA – The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) desperately wants to work with Government at all levels and has called for an end to the stand off between the two parties.

TAC chairperson Mark Heywood claimed at a media gathering at the International AIDS Conference that some health officials had been instructed not to work with TAC.

‘€œIt is crucial that we work together to strengthen the prevention and treatment plans in the country and we can bring great and powerful forces to both campaigns,’€ Heywood said, referring to TAC’€™s partnership with trade union giant COSATU and the religious fraternity.

He said the Barcelona conference would be remembered for the remarkable consensus to expand anti-retroviral treatment to developing countries.

‘€œWe do not want to return home and hear the argument that treatment is not relevant because it does not eradicate the virus.

‘€œWe call on the health minister to end her isolationist position. She must stop isolating herself from world consensus,’€ Heywood said.

He said it was critical for the South African government to accept the principle of a national treatment plan, to use voluntary licensing and if necessary compulsory licensing to gain access to cheaper drugs.

‘€œThere is no excuse not to expand our treatment programme, especially in the light of an announcement by an Indian generic drug manufacturer that four of its anti-retroviral drugs had been approved by the World Health Organisation.’€

In another move TAC called on the health minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang or President Mbeki to publicly welcome the U$78-million allocation to KwaZulu-Natal by the Global Fund.

‘€œThere needs to be an end to the South African Government’€™s ambiguous approach to the money in the fund.

‘€œThere is no time for messing about and controversy on the issue,’€ Heywood said, adding that a deadline was looming for acceptance of the money.

Following the Constitutional Court case victory, TAC has also sent a letter to Tshabalala-Msimang and her nine MECs.

The letter reminds the recipients of the findings of the Constitutional Court and asks what steps had been taken to:

  •                   remove the restrictions that prevent nevirapine from being made available at public hospitals and clinics that are not research and training sites;

  •                 permit and facilitate the use of nevirapine for the purpose of reducing the risk of mother-to-child transmission;

  •               make provision for counselors based at public hospitals and clinics other than the research and training sites to be trained for the counseling necessary for the use of nevirapine;

  •                       extend the testing and counseling facilities at hospitals and clinics throughout the public sector to facilitate and expedite the use of nevirapine for this purpose.

In the letter TAC also reiterated its willingness to assist Government ‘€œin any manner which is possible’€.

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