ALP and TAC hit back after Mseleku’s ‘personal attack’
The AIDS Law Project (ALP) and Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) have hit back after two senior health department officials attacked one of its senior leader’s presentation at the national tuberculosis conference in Durban last week.
Mark Heywood, who heads the ALP and is TAC treasurer made a presentation on health and human rights during a plenary session at the conference on Thursday.
After commenting on the State’s failure to respond to the TB epidemic and a health department decision to isolate drug-resistant TB patients in institutions – some with barbed wired and security guards ‘ Health Director General Thami Mseleku hit back stating that human rights were not relevant to considerations of health policy in a developmental state.
Speaking from the floor after Heywood’s presentation, Mseleku made what the TAC and ALP described as a ‘personal attack’ when he claimed Heywood had merely swapped his slides from HIV to TB.
The organizations said newly appointed TB Cluster Manager in the health department David Mametja had abused his position as co-chair of the conference track on Patient and Civil Society.
‘Instead of reporting on the outcomes of that track during the closing session he focused solely on attacking Heywood’s presentation of the day before. This was contemptuous of all the people who presented and participated in the track that he co-chaired,’ said the ALP and TAC.
‘The ALP and the TAC stand fully behind the call for partnership with government. However, we also stand by statements that South Africa’s TB programme has and is failing because of a lack of human and financial resources, as well as the lack of consistent and clear political leadership.
‘We believe that, as with HIV, the plan is undermined by the overwhelming lack of faith in the Minister of Health, and the paralysis of her Ministry. It is time that she was replaced,’ the statement said.
The ALP said it accepted Mametja’s offer to Heywood to join the Department of Health on an inspection of multi drug-resistant (MDR) sites in KwaZulu-Natal.
However, the ALP called for this process:
· to be extended to all MDR TB hospitals in the country
· to be linked to a commitment to rapidly finalise a clear national policy on MDR/XDR TB isolation
· to immediately rectify all deficiencies identified at the sites, and
· to finalise regulations that allow for isolation of drug resistant TB patients based on principles of justice and fairness. ‘ health-e news service