South Africa: Plan to Distribute AIDS Drugs Presented to Health Minister
October 1, 2003
On Tuesday, a task team presented South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang with a national plan to distribute AIDS drugs through the public health system. The report comes a month after the government, under pressure to fight AIDS in the country, ordered the ministry to draft a distribution plan by the end of September. The report task team comprised Health Ministry officials and members of the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation.
While Msimang is expected to deliver the report to the cabinet soon, no details of the report were immediately released. "The report's details will not be released before the minister has gone through it thoroughly," said Health Ministry spokesperson Harry Nchunu. Earlier this year, Msimang said even if the plan were approved, it was highly unlikely the drugs would be made available this year.
An earlier government treatment study, leaked to the press in July by the AIDS activist group Treatment Action Campaign, found that more than 1.7 million South Africans could be saved by 2010 if the government made AIDS drugs immediately available. About 1.8 million additional children will lose a parent by 2010 if the drugs are not provided, according to the study, which was compiled by health and finance officials.
The earlier study also estimated the cost of a national AIDS medicine program at between 16.9 billion rand (US$2.2 billion) and 21.4 billion rand (US$2.8 billion) by 2010. The Finance Ministry said earlier this year it had set aside 3 billion rand (US$393 million) in the current year's budget for AIDS treatments. The report, however, found that treating only half of those in need would cost 7 billion rand (US$919 million) over the next two years.
09.30.03; Elliott Sylvester
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.