South African Mining Union Calls Anglo American Decision to Cover Antiretrovirals Only for Senior Staff ‘Racist’
South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers said Thursday that mining conglomerate Anglo American's policy to include coverage of antiretroviral drugs only for its senior employees is "inherently racist" because senior officials are mainly white or members of the "black elite," Reuters reports (Reuters, 10/11). Anglo American initially agreed in November to supply its HIV-positive South African workforce with antiretroviral medications, but on Monday the company announced that it cannot afford to give the drugs to all of its HIV-positive workers and their spouses as promised. Anglo American's Vice President for Medical Operations Brian Brink said that the company would provide its 14,000 senior staff members with the drugs as part of their medical insurance packages, but said that extending that coverage to all employees would be too expensive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/10). An estimated 20% to 25% of South African mineworkers are HIV-positive. In a statement, the union said, "Preference given to senior employees is inherently racist and discriminatory with beneficiaries of the scheme being, in the main, white workers and the black elite." NUM added that Anglo American's decision "puts us firmly in dispute with the company. Our right to strike is restored. But we will first engage Anglo in this regard" (Reuters, 10/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.