TAC ‘Demands’ HIV/AIDS Treatment Plan from South African Government
The Treatment Action Campaign, a South African AIDS activist group, intends to "pressure" the nation's government into creating an HIV/AIDS treatment plan this year, TAC Chair Zackie Achmat told SABC radio on Monday (WOZA Internet, 3/19). The organization wants the government to publish a "comprehensive plan" for providing treatment, including a strategy for raising funds from international sources, such as the Group of Seven nations, and a "timetable for bringing the drugs to public clinics and ensuring they are administered properly" (Schoofs, Wall Street Journal, 3/21). Achmat's announcement comes a day after the opening of TAC's first National Congress in Soweto on Sunday, with 169 organizations registered as participants. According to TAC's Web site, "Over the last two years, the TAC has built the foundations for a formidable mass movement to fight for access to treatment. ... With political will and a united front the obstacles to treatment access and decent health care for all people can be overcome. The TAC's first National Congress will provide an opportunity for civil society to pave the way forward to affordable treatment for all." Speaking about TAC's application to be a Friend of the Court at the side of the government in the lawsuit filed by 39 pharmaceutical companies against the country over drug patent rights, Achmat said, "Our role is a supportive one, but also one of advocacy. We support government for wanting to create a framework that will address the unaccountability of the pharmaceutical industry" (Harvey, WOZA Internet, 3/19). Before TAC was formed, "few if any" organizations in South Africa "championed treating the country's HIV patients with the antiretroviral drugs" that have significantly reduced mortality rates from AIDS in developing nations. TAC is also currently working with the government on implementing a "treatment literacy campaign" to help educate patients about drug therapies (Wall Street Journal, 3/21).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.