Johnny Clegg donates R100,000 to TAC
South African musician Johnny Clegg has donated R100,000 to AIDS lobby group the Treatment Action Campaign to mark World Tuberculosis (TB) Day.
Clegg handed over the money at a press conference yesterday in Johannesburg where he also announced that he will attempt to raise R1 million for the member-based HIV organisation at an upcoming 23 June Johannesburg concert.
“Over the years many of my friends, including members of my earlier music projects, contracted TB but were thankfully diagnosed early and we were able to help them,” said Clegg in a statement. “I challenge others across South Africa to join hands with TAC in taking action against TB, particularly leaders in the corporate world.”
Clegg’s announcement coincided with a TAC-led demonstration at Parliament in Cape Town where about 5,000 people called on Parliamentarians to publicly test for TB.
“We know that many of us marching today will die of TB,” said TAC General Secretary of the TAC Anele Yawa in a statement, “It is our brothers and sisters, our friends, our parents, our comrades, who die of TB. We call on Members of Parliament to heed our call to fight this epidemic. They can start showing their solidarity by getting tested.”
In Johannesburg, Executive Director of the public interest law non-profit Section27 Mark Heywood said that the struggle for equality and access to medicines that gave life to the TAC was not yet over.
“The TAC started with the … belief that there should be equality and access to medicines,” he told OurHealth.
“South Africa (now) has the biggest AIDS programme in the world, according to the official statistics,” he added. “There are three million people on antiretroviral (ARV) treatment and there is a huge roll out of ARVs that has saved literally millions of lives.”
“We are seating here in a panel today because AIDS and TB are unfinished business,” he said. “We are not winning the battle against TB. In fact, we are losing the battle against TB.”
TAC’s Women’s Sector Representative Portia Serote also expressed concern regarding the reported treatment gaps, particularly in reference to patients with drug-resistant TB. In 2013, less than half of patients diagnosed with multidrug-resistant TB were started on treatment in South Africa, according to the World Health Organisation.