South African Health Minister Criticizes Anglo American For Not Consulting Government Before Announcing AIDS Treatment Plan
South African Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang yesterday criticized mining conglomerate Anglo American for announcing that it will provide antiretroviral treatment for its HIV-positive employees without first consulting the government, the Washington Post reports (Washington Post, 8/16). The company announced on Aug. 6 that it will provide antiretroviral therapy to its HIV-positive employees in Southern Africa who do not already qualify for treatment under medical insurance programs for as long as they can remain on the job. An estimated 23% of Anglo's workforce -- or 18,000 people -- is HIV-positive (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6). At the time of the announcement, CEO Tony Trahar said that the government should be responsible for providing treatment but, in the absence of a government-sponsored plan, "urged" other companies to follow Anglo's example. Tshabalala-Msimang said yesterday that her department had not been consulted and that she was concerned that the government would be expected to treat Anglo employees when they could no longer work and were no longer eligible under the company's plan. "I don't think it is correct for an organization out there to commit government [to providing treatment], having not discussed with government," she said. She added that the "correct thing that should have happened was for Anglo to have come and discussed with us so that they can understand our concerns and we will understand their generosity." Several additional mining firms have announced similar treatment initiatives in the wake of Anglo's announcement (Boyle, Reuters, 8/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.