SABC News, TAC lambasts govt's Aids drugs failure, 27 January 2004

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has criticised the government for failing in its plan to introduce anti-retroviral medicines at the 73 health care sites across the country. The organisation intends to hold various public meetings next month to put pressure on government.

The TAC says it is unacceptable that only the Western Cape has started with the distribution of the Aids drugs since cabinet agreed on a roll out plan in November last year. It said the programme, which targets about 53 000 people living with HIV/Aids, is inadequate and lacks political commitment.

Mark Haywood, a TAC spokesperson, said: "We are concerned that the plan originally allocates R270 million for the end of this financial year and has been cut to R90 million. As we speak today the R90 million is not as far as we know, dispersed to provincial governments - it still sits in the level of national government."

However, government says a task team has been established to investigate the pricing and volume of drugs needed.

"We are now placing tenders or anti-retrovirals but in our own view we not just rely on one supplier - we have got to have a number of suppliers so that we actually always have anti-retrovirals in stock," says Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the Health Minister.

The TAC plans to have a conference prior to the elections where it will table its assessment of the state of the health services in this country. All political parties will be invited.




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