TAC manager, Nathan Geffen, presented these figures to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health last week.
‘This (R10-billion) is a substantial investment and the financial burden would have to be shared by the state, private companies, medical schemes and the international community through multilateral aid,’ Geffen said.
To reduce the estimated bill of R18 billion to less than R10 billion by 2015 the cost of medication would have to be reduced, a vaccine would need to become available, employers would need to treat employees and the Global Fund would need to continue meeting obligations. The calculations also factored in the reduction in state obligations due to lower opportunistic infection costs and reduced orphan grants, a direct spin off from treating people with anti-AIDS drugs. To date, The Global Fund has committed grants totaling U$31,4-m to South African initiatives.
Geffen said that if the state committed to these interventions, TAC and civil society would ensure that pressure was placed on these other sectors to meet their share of the financial burden. He warned, however, that the cost of the generic drugs would also need to be reduced to R300 per month for a first line regimen and R400 for a second line regimen.
TAC used the platform to urge the health minister and trade and industry minister to use Section 4 of the Patents Act to acquire compulsory licences for the generic production of all anti-retrovirals.
‘We offer to research, provide legal support and through social mobilisation to ensure that the whole world understand that our government is taking action to save lives,’ TAC undertook in their submission to the committee.
Actuaries at UCT calculated that a treatment and prevention scenario would reduce by 2015 by nearly three million the number of HIV related deaths, result in 2,5-million fewer new HIV infections, halve the number of orphans produced by the epidemic and result in life expectancy in South Africa dropping at the worst point in the epidemic to about 50 instead of 40.
In making their calculations, the researchers examined all aspects of cost, including staff, wastage, monitoring and diagnostics, training, medicines and infrastructure development.