In Christian Science Monitor Interview, Mandela Expresses Desire to Change Image of South Africa’s ANC Party
In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, "living legend" and former South African President Nelson Mandela "ma[de] clear" that he wants to alter the world's perception that South Africa's ruling African National Congress "does not care about" citizens who are living with HIV/AIDS. "The tragedy is that the poorest of the poor cannot go to doctors and private clinics," Mandela said, adding that the more financially accessible public hospitals, which are controlled by the government, do not offer antiretroviral medications. "It is because of this that we have created the impression that we don't care for the people who are dying. That is a matter of concern to me," he said. Mandela, who has advocated universal access to antiretroviral drugs, added that the only response to such criticism is to say that "[w]e are conducting our scientific research, and when we have completed it, we will make our findings public." Meanwhile, Mandela urged the country's HIV-positive citizens to "go to anybody who they think will help them with their illness." The ANC's policy preventing the distribution of antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women in public hospitals has drawn "international criticism," as have statements made by President Thabo Mbeki questioning the causal link between HIV and AIDS (Battersby, Christian Science Monitor, 3/28).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.