South Africa’s Rejection of Help for HIV/AIDS Reminiscent of Government Attitude During Apartheid, Editorial Says
When South Africa's ruling African National Congress this week rejected the "interference" of former President Jimmy Carter or "anybody else" in the country's fight against HIV/AIDS, the response "could have been lifted right from South Africa's ugly past," when the ruling National Party responded similarly to the call by Carter and others to "abandon apartheid and embrace democracy," an Atlanta Journal-Constitution editorial says. Last week, Carter urged the South African government to "act more aggressively against AIDS" and offered to help the government with fundraising efforts. "Nobody from elsewhere in the world should presume they have a superior right to tell us what to do with our own challenges," the ANC responded. South African President Thabo Mbeki is "play[ing] with people's lives" by refusing to allow the distribution of nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women despite the fact that it could prevent tens of thousands of infants from becoming infected with HIV, the Journal-Constitution states. Mbeki justifies his decision with "brazen lie[s]," calling the FDA-approved and WHO-endorsed drug "unsafe" and insisting that pharmaceutical companies want to "treat [the South African people] as guinea pigs," the editorial says. The Medical Research Council of South Africa estimates that without treatment, five million to seven million South Africans will have died as a result of AIDS by 2010. "How tragic that the ANC, which this year celebrates 90 years of struggle for the rights of people of color, now stands by as they die," the editorial concludes (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 3/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.