South African President Zuma Appoints New Health Minister To Replace Hogan
South African President Jacob Zuma on Sunday appointed physician Aaron Motsoaledi as health minister, replacing Health Minister Barbara Hogan, who was appointed to a public enterprises position, London's Guardian reports. Motsoaledi previously served as a provincial education minister. Hogan had been appointed to the post last year to replace former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang (Smith, Guardian, 5/10).
According to AFP/Google.com, Zuma responded to concerns about the appointment, saying that Motsoaledi is a "well-known doctor who has handled this department at a provincial level in the past." Zuma added that Motsoaledi is "a very energetic and able comrade so I don't think you should be very worried."
HIV/AIDS advocates said the leadership change at the Health Ministry could hinder South Africa's efforts to address HIV/AIDS. Mark Heywood, a spokesperson for the Treatment Action Campaign, said Zuma's decision to replace Hogan is "very disappointing," adding, "We have an entirely new political team responsible for health at a time where the health system is in critical need of resuscitation and in need of continuity and understanding."
Zuma has said he is committed to fighting HIV/AIDS, and advocates are calling for "visible leadership for a strong national response," AFP/Google.com reports. According to AFP/Google.com, a "challenge" Zuma faces is finding enough funding to maintain the country's antiretroviral drug program, which is the largest national antiretroviral program worldwide and provided about 700,000 South Africans with treatment as of November 2008. The South African government plans to increase funding for HIV/AIDS programs by 932 million rand, or about $112 million, and double treatment over the next three years; however, the country also is facing its first economic recession in nearly two decades, AFP/Google.com reports (AFP/Google.com, 5/11).