South African Officials Launch Nationwide Tour to Address Confusion About National HIV/AIDS Policy
A team of South African officials will tour the country to "clean up" any confusion over national policies on HIV/AIDS and "pave the way" for a comprehensive national effort against the disease, the Sunday Times reports. The tour was designed in response to the "chaotic state of health care in some provinces," including the Eastern Cape, which faces a fiscal shortfall, and Mpumalanga, where there are concerns that provincial Health Minister Sibongile Manana is treating the province as her "personal fiefdom." For several months, Manana has been attempting to evict a non-governmental organization that provides counseling and post-exposure prophylactic antiretroviral treatment to rape survivors. The national government was previously opposed to offering PEP for rape survivors at public hospitals, but officials recently initiated a policy shift to allow provision of the drugs. On the same day that the government announced the policy change, Manana delivered the latest eviction notice to the NGO. Sibani Mngadi, a spokesperson for Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, said that the situation in Mpumalanga had been discussed "at [the] national level" and that the new policy in favor of PEP "was binding on all provinces." The national government has provided information packets about its HIV/AIDS policies to the touring team of officials, who will attempt to relay the government's intentions "as clearly as possible," national health department spokesperson Joanne Collinge said (Jordan, Sunday Times, 5/6).
South Africa, Lesotho Sign Health Cooperation Agreement
In other South African news, Tshabalala-Msimang and her Lesotho counterpart, Dr. Ponto Sekatle, on Friday signed a declaration of intent to pursue "further cooperation between the two countries within the field of public health," the South African Press Association reports. The agreement allows Lesotho to transfer patients to South Africa for treatment, reserves slots in South African medical schools for Lesothan students and facilitates the exchange of health experts. Under the agreement, the two health departments will also work together to track diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. "The strategic partnership will strengthen relations that already exist between the two democratic governments and will assist in building cooperation that is more focused for the benefit of all the peoples of both countries," Tshabalala-Msimang said (South African Press Association, 5/3).
Hospice Provides Care to Children With HIV/AIDS
The AP/Detroit Free Press yesterday profiled children living at Sparrow Rainbow Village, a Johannesburg AIDS hospice run by Sparrow Ministries, a South African Christian organization. The full article is available online (Kraft, AP/Detroit Free Press, 5/6).