South Africa: Doctors, Nurses Demand More Aggressive Government Plan to Combat AIDS
June 9, 2003
Doctors and nurses picketed state hospitals Friday in South Africa, demanding that the government institute more aggressive plans to combat AIDS. Health care workers say they are frustrated that every day they see HIV-positive patients die but are not able to give them the AIDS drugs they need to survive. "As doctors we have had enough," said Mark Sonderup, spokesperson for the South African Medical Association. "What we want is unambiguous, immediate commitment from government that they are serious about rolling out AIDS drugs and securing the safety and security of all health workers," Sonderup said.Adapted from:
Representing the majority of the country's doctors, the association has joined hands with health worker unions, student doctors and AIDS activists in urging the government initiate an AIDS strategy. Questioning the cost and effect of AIDS drugs, the government has not made antiretroviral drugs available at public hospitals. "We know we can comfortably handle the national rollout of AIDS drugs," said Sonderup. "We have no false beliefs that it will be easy but we are up to the challenge."
South Africa's highest court, the Constitutional Court, has ordered the government to make a plan for the distribution of antiretroviral drugs, but officials have yet to do so.
"Certain sectors of health care in this country are dysfunctional," said Vuyani Jacobs, a spokesperson of the Treatment Action Campaign, an AIDS activist group. "Our discussions hope to address these problems under one strategy, one plan," Jacobs said. Such a plan must include provisions for the treatment of infections, education on prevention, as well as how AIDS drugs can be made available.
06.06.03; Elliott Sylvester
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.