South Africa’s Democratic Alliance Calls Declaration of AIDS as National Emergency
South Africa's largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, yesterday urged that HIV/AIDS be declared a "national emergency" and voiced support for legislation that would enable the country to bypass AIDS drug patent laws, the Associated Press reports (Associated Press, 2/13). The Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights agreement, or TRIPS, allows countries to grant compulsory licensing in order to skirt global patent rules when a national emergency is involved ( Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/6). Although the alliance previously opposed such legislation, party leader Tony Leon said to Parliament yesterday, "The terrible cost of AIDS outweighs a legitimate attachment to narrow definitions of intellectual property rights." The country has accused international pharmaceutical companies of charging "exorbitant" prices for AIDS drugs, and companies have already used a court challenge to delay legislation that would allow the country to bypass patent laws. The Associated Press notes that the push for a declaration of national emergency comes "amid news that South Africa's youngest AIDS activist, Nkosi Johnson, has been admitted to the hospital in critical condition" (Associated Press, 2/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.