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Congressional Delegation Criticizes South Africa's AIDS Policy

April 9, 2002

The head of a visiting US congressional delegation criticized the South African government's policy on AIDS as "tragic" Monday, but added that America will continue its funding to fight the disease. Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-Ariz.), head of the Congressional Appropriations foreign aid committee, said that the United States was committed to assisting in the fight against AIDS in South Africa, despite the failure of that nation's government to act effectively.

A significant portion of the $54 million that the United States provides South Africa is designated for fighting AIDS, Kolbe said. Kolbe spoke during a tour of US-funded projects in Cape Town. His congressional committee decides where money should be allocated abroad.

"It is tragic that we have such a lack of leadership on the part of central government to deal with this problem, but we are getting services to where it is needed," Kolbe said. His remarks were in reference to South Africa's well-developed private health sector that includes private health clinics and hospitals fighting the epidemic. The delegation of five Congressmen also toured Mali, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Swaziland.

The South African government has come under criticism most recently for resisting the implementation of a court order to provide the AIDS drug nevirapine to infected pregnant women. The government has ruled out offering the drug through its public health system, pointing to the side effects of the medicine.

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Excerpted from:
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