Former South African President De Klerk Says ANC Government ‘Lost Years’ in AIDS Fight by Scrapping Apartheid-Era Plan
Former South African President F.W. de Klerk on Monday said that the country's African National Congress government "lost years" in the fight against HIV/AIDS because it scrapped former Health Minister Dr. Rina Venter's apartheid-era HIV/AIDS action plan upon taking office in 1994, the SAPA/News24.com reports. Speaking at the annual conference of the National Association of Pharmaceutical Wholesalers in Kleinmond, South Africa, de Klerk said that Venter's plan, "as [with] so many other good action plans and policy documents, was left on the shelf to gather dust because understandably, let me say understandably, there was a wish on the side of the ANC to reinvent the wheel." De Klerk added, "Anything which came from the apartheid era was somehow or other contaminated. Because of allowing a very good action plan, which was already prepared, to gather dust, we've lost years in the fight against AIDS" (SAPA/News24.com, 10/4). He did not provide details on Venter's plan, according to Reuters (Reuters, 10/4). De Klerk said that HIV/AIDS is now the "biggest threat" to South Africa, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. "Sadly, nobody foresaw the AIDS pandemic or imagined that within 20 years some six million South Africans would have died of this new and terrible disease," he said. De Klerk, who was the last white president of South Africa, helped negotiate with his National Party, which had created apartheid, to allow the country's first all-race elections in 1994. He and former President Nelson Mandela won the 1993 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts (Sylvester, AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.