Global Healthbeat: South Africa AIDS Policy
AIDS activists in South Africa are demanding the dismissal of Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who President Thabo Mbeki continues to praise as a heroine. Both the South African President and his Health Minister have made international headlines over the past few years for their controversial view on AIDS and their approach to the AIDS crisis in South Africa. Tshabalala-Msimang has been condemned by the national and international community for her distrust of anti-retroviral medications (ARV) and her promotion of food to treat the viral illness. She has recommended the virus be treated with lemon, garlic, olive oil and beetroot.
5.4 million South Africans are infected with the AIDS virus - the highest number in the world. One of my own personal heroes, Nobel laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu, has lamented that the anti-apartheid heroes and heroines era who lost their lives would be shocked at the staggering 900 deaths daily in South Africa due to AIDS. Tutu has condemned "...the bizarre theories held on high..." by the South African government.
Nathan Geffen, policy coordinator for South African's Treatment Action Campaign cites the following failures of the government policies:
- failure to provide adequate levels of staffing and expertise
- inadequate provision of medications to HIV-positive mothers to prevent transmission to children
- delays in providing treatment to people diagnosed with AIDS
The good news is that there is a Comprehensive Treatment Plan in place for South Africa, and ARV's are center stage - although the number of people taking advantage of the plan ( less than 500,000) is a small percentage of those who actually need it. The Plan is modeled after the WHO Treatment guidelines. Services offered are:
- nutritional support
- medications to treat opportunistic infections (OI)
- nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTI)'s
- non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTI)'s
- protease inhibitors
Thank you jimmcintosh for use of photo Orphaned by AIDS.
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