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Activists in South Africa, U.S., Canada Demand Firing of South Africa's Health Minister

Pickets and Delivery of Letters to Embassy and Consulates in DC, NY, LA, Chicago, Ottawa

August 24, 2006

Nationwide protests began in South Africa, the United States and Canada today in response to a call for global action from South Africa's Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) -- an activist group led by people living with HIV/AIDS. In New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and Ottawa AIDS activists picketed at South African embassies and consulates, and delivered massive "pink slips" calling for the dismissal of South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. Tshabalala-Msimang has attracted international criticism for her failure to lead, claims that HIV does not cause AIDS, claims that nutritional remedies such as garlic are effective as anti-HIV drugs, and inaction while 800 people in South Africa die daily from AIDS.

The activists also demanded the development of a national AIDS plan and the immediate compliance with an order by South African courts to treat HIV positive prisoners, many of whom are seriously ill and at risk of death. "Instead of leadership, the South African government is responding to AIDS with a deadly concoction of inaction and quackery," said Brook Baker of Health GAP.

UN Special Envoy for AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis recently called the actions of the South African government, "more worthy of a lunatic fringe than of a concerned and compassionate state."

In South Africa, more than 1,000 new infections occur every day and more than 800 deaths occur every day. Last week 45 members of the TAC were arrested after taking over government offices to protest the preventable deaths of people in South African prisons denied access to AIDS treatment despite a court order.

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Organizations in the United States and Canada endorsing these protests include: Student Global AIDS Campaign, ACT UP Philadelphia, Health GAP, Global AIDS Alliance, Housing Works, African Services Committee, Africa Action, DC Fights Back!, Priority Africa Network, Friends of TAC-North America, Students Against Global AIDS, Canadian Treatment Action Council, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group. Visit www.tac.org.za for more information.


Treatment Action Campaign
Global Day of Action
For AIDS Treatment and Prevention in South Africa

In South Africa activists in all six provinces held massive demonstrations at the Departments of Health and Correctional Services.

In the United States, Canada, and the UK activists will visit the embassy and consulates of South Africa where they will picket and deliver massive 5-foot tall letters with TAC's demands.

Thursday, August 24th

WASHINGTON, DC (1:15pm) -- South African Embassy, 3051 Massachusetts Ave, NW

NEW YORK, NY (1:15pm) -- South African Mission to the UN, 333 E 38th Street

CHICAGO, IL (4:15pm) -- South African Consulate, 200 South Michigan Avenue

LOS ANGELES, CA (1:15pm) -- TBA

OTTAWA, ONTARIO (10:00am) -- South African High Commission, 15 Sussex Drive


Demands

We stand, today, with the Treatment Action Campaign in support of their demands that President Mbeki and Deputy President Mlambo-Ngcuka:

  1. Convene a national meeting and plan for the HIV/AIDS crisis now!

  2. End deaths in prisons -- provide treatment, nutrition and prevention!

  3. Dismiss health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang!

  4. Respect the rule of law and the Constitution in providing people in prisons and others with treatment immediately!

  5. End health apartheid and build a peoples' health service!



  
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This article was provided by Treatment Action Campaign.
 

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