Treatment Action Campaign Continuing Legal Action Urging South African Government To Develop AIDS Treatment Targets
Despite reports that the South African HIV/AIDS advocacy group Treatment Action Campaign had dropped its legal action against the South African government to force it to make its antiretroviral treatment program rollout plan publicly available, the group has not dropped its suit and is asking the government to "urgently" develop and publish an implementation plan, the SAPA/SABC News reports (SAPA/SABC News, 10/25). According to Fatima Hassan, an attorney with the AIDS Law Project of Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa, the South African Department of Health was supposed to attach a document -- called "annexure A" -- to its plan that was released in November 2003. The document reportedly detailed important information about the antiretroviral program, including patient treatment targets and timetables, as well as when the government aimed to achieve certain program objectives in specific provinces (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/14). Reuters reported earlier this week that TAC said it had dropped its request for the publication of "annexure A" after health department officials told the group that there was no "officially adopted document" for the rollout of antiretroviral drugs to area hospitals. "We were told that the document we were seeking was a draft and had never been officially adopted by the Cabinet or by the Department of Health," TAC Treasurer Mark Heywood said, adding, "Our approach was to reply and say we are not interested in a document with no standing" (Isa, Reuters, 10/25). The group now plans to ask the Pretoria High Court on Nov. 4 to force the health department to release deadlines on the rollout of the antiretroviral drug program, TAC Chair Zackie Achmat said on Wednesday while addressing church groups in Durban, South Africa (SABC News, 10/26). TAC also plans to ask the court to order the government to pay TAC's legal costs (SAPA/SABC News, 10/25). About 11% of South Africa's 45 million people are estimated to be HIV-positive, according to Reuters (Reuters, 10/25).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.