South African Human Rights Commission Report Calls for Implementation of Court Ruling To Provide Antiretrovirals to Pregnant Women
The South African Human Rights Commission on Tuesday released a 533-page report calling for the South African government to implement the Constitutional Court's ruling regarding the provision of antiretroviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women and their infants, the South African Press Association reports (South African Press Association, 4/22). A Pretoria High Court in December 2001 ruled that the government must provide nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women through the public health system to reduce the risk of vertical HIV transmission. The government appealed the decision, citing concerns over the drug's safety and efficacy, but the Constitutional Court in July 2002 denied the appeal, saying that that the government's restriction of the drug's distribution to 18 pilot sites "fell short of its constitutional obligation to offer the best treatment available" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/11). The SAHRC's fourth annual report on economic and social rights, compiled between 2000 and 2002, examines the success of the "government's efforts to realize the rights to basic services outlined in the Bill of Rights," stating, "The court ruling needs to be ... taken into account and ... implemented immediately." SAHRC also calls for the government to make its "top priority" the development of a plan for universal access to antiretrovirals for people with HIV/AIDS and for the Health Department's budget to "reflect this" goal, the South African Press Association reports. SAHRC Chair Jody Kollapen said, "The urgency of reducing new infections and treating people living with HIV/AIDS requires not only political will but additional funding to tackle the pandemic" (South African Press Association, 4/22). The government yesterday rejected the SAHRC report, citing data from Statistics SA that show an upward trend in the delivery of social and medical services since 1995, according to SAPA (South African Press Association, 4/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.