South African President ‘Underestimates’ Effect of HIV/AIDS, Has No Battle Plan to Fight Disease, Critics Say
South African President Thabo Mbeki, who has "greatly underestimated" the effect of HIV/AIDS on his country, has no national strategy to fight HIV/AIDS and may not be able to lead his country out of the crisis, according to critics, the Washington Post reports. Although 1,800 more South Africans become HIV-positive each day, Mbeki "rare[ly]" speaks about the disease and "projects little sense of urgency" when he does, according to the Post. Mbeki, who has questioned the causal link between HIV and AIDS and has called AIDS drugs "poison," has most recently restricted to only 18 sites the distribution of the drug nevirapine, which can cut in half the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission, to HIV-positive pregnant women, causing international and domestic criticism of Mbeki to come "to a head." Mbeki's refusal to "rally" South Africa against HIV/AIDS has also caused a divide in his own party, the African National Congress. In what could prove to be a "confrontational" meeting, the Post reports that the ANC is meeting today to discuss AIDS policy (DeYoung, Washington Post, 3/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.