South African Government Should Make HIV/AIDS an Election Issue, Opinion Piece Says
South Africa's "ruling party has gained seats at a time when it continues to fail [the country] on the AIDS crisis," John Kane-Berman, CEO of the South African Institute of Race Relations, writes in a Business Day opinion piece. Although there have been "large percentage increases in budgetary provisions for fighting AIDS ... these are undermined by Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's continuing hostility to antiretrovirals and sympathy for AIDS dissidents," Kane-Berman says. While the country faces a "human catastrophe requiring public education in clear language," the government "takes refuge" in discussions of "premises" about whether HIV causes AIDS -- arguments that "belong more to academic debate," he says. Kane-Berman adds that the "vast majority of parliamentarians seem to be content to condone this state of affairs." According to Kane-Berman, the "mishandling of AIDS can and should be turned into an election issue" during general elections, which the government is required to hold between June and September next year. "There will always be those who argue that the war against AIDS should be 'above politics.' ... The problem with this argument, however, is that government is not really fighting AIDS," Kane-Berman says, concluding, "The object of turning [the government's] failure into an election issue is to mobilize voters to force it to do so. What a glorious victory for both humanity and democracy that would be!" (Kane-Berman, Business Day, 4/22).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.