South African Government, President Mbeki Have Led ‘Silent Genocide’ With HIV/AIDS Policies, Opinion Piece Says
South Africa's ruling African National Congress, including President Thabo Mbeki, have "presided over a genocide perpetrated on its own people" by "willfully consign[ing] the HIV/AIDS pandemic to one of many problems the country faced rather than the problem," Padraig O'Malley, a visiting fellow at University of Massachusetts-Boston McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies, writes in a Boston Globe opinion piece. O'Malley, who is writing a book about HIV/AIDS in South Africa, says that the government's "belligerent intransigence" to the disease has "doomed millions of blacks to die unnecessarily" and has served as "fodder for the unforgivable arrogance of their leaders, especially" Mbeki. According to O'Malley, Mbeki has "washed his hands of AIDS" by refusing to make the antiretroviral drug nevirapine available to help curb mother-to-child HIV transmission, remaining "pugnaciously unwilling to call AIDS a virus" and choosing to "obfuscate and use dilatory tactics" to delay the rollout of a national HIV/AIDS treatment program. Mbeki has "provided no leadership, no political will to mobilize people and resources to address the fear that stalks the country, no organized effort to take the stigma attached to the disease, no exhortations to the people to come together under the umbrella of a government they would see as the vanguard, carrying the war to the insidious disease, battling it on every front, ready to put every Cabinet minister and member of parliament in the trenches," according to O'Malley. Over the next decade, "millions" in South Africa will die from AIDS-related causes, O'Malley says, concluding that the "ANC-led government under the leadership of [Mbeki] has and continues to carry out a silent genocide," and "[r]ather than setting their country free, Mbeki's ANC is destroying it -- from apartheid to AIDS" (O'Malley, Boston Globe, 4/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.