Editorials Respond to South African Government’s Announcement Calling for National Antiretroviral Plan
Last week, the South African Cabinet announced it was calling for the Health Ministry to develop a national antiretroviral treatment plan by Oct. 1, after reviewing a Joint Health and Treasury Task Team cost report on providing HIV/AIDS drugs to the public (Kaiser Daily HIV/AID Report, 8/11). Two publications this week published editorials responding to the announcement. Summaries of these editorials follow:
Lancet: The recent move by South Africa to develop a national HIV/AIDS treatment plan offers a "real chance to leave the past behind and move swiftly forward to a better future for the people of South Africa," according to an editorial published in the Aug. 16 issue of the Lancet. The editorial says that "[m]any South Africans with HIV/AIDS have waited a long time while being repeatedly disappointed by their government leaders" and "many have died." HIV/AIDS patients in the country are "understandably impatient and skeptical," the Lancet says, concluding, "We urge the government to put the recommendations [found in the Health and Treasury Task Team's report] into practice" (Lancet, 8/16).
Long Island Newsday: The recent developments in South Africa's movement toward a national antiretroviral drug plan mark a "triumph of rationality at long last," a Newsday editorial says. Although the changes may have been prompted by an upcoming election or the loss of productivity stemming from the high rate of AIDS-related deaths, it is a "welcome about-face, whatever the cause," Newsday says, adding that the government now needs to offer a "workable" plan within the next few months. Officials must determine how much money the country is "willing to commit to the program" and hope that "traces of [South African President Thabo] Mbeki's old recalcitrance" do not affect the new effort, Newsday says. The editorial concludes, "The turnabout is a great, but incomplete, piece of progress" (Long Island Newsday, 8/14).