Former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang used an international platform to agitate for better monitoring of HIV/AIDS medication, squandering an opportunity for South Africa to work with the United Nations and its member countries.
This is according to Sonke Gender Justice and People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA) which attended the UN 53rd session on the Commission on the Status of Women (2000CSW) held in New York recently.
The theme of the meeting was “The equal sharing of responsibilities between women and men, including caregiving in the context of HIV and AIDS”.
“The UN CSW offers an opportunity for South Africa to work with UN agencies, civil society and other UN signatory countries to seek bold solutions to prevention and treatment efforts and thereby reducing the burden of AIDS-related care,” said Sonke and POWA.
“Sadly, the pronouncements made on behalf of the South African government delegation to the 2009 UN CSW by Tshabalala Msimang, now the Minister in the Presidency, have once again undermined South Africa’s credibility in the international community and stand in stark contradiction to the priorities laid out in the National Strategic Plan for HIV/AIDS,” they added.
Instead of focusing on how to reach the HIV/AIDS caregiving targets in the new plan, including providing treatment, care and support to 80 percent of HIV positive people and their families by 2011, Tshabalala-Msimang steered discussion to alternative and traditional HIV/AIDS remedies and the need for drug monitoring.
Her official address did not mention the new strategic plan once, but instead appealed to “development partners” for more resources for “research on affordable alternatives such as complementary and traditional medicines, as well as nutrition”.
“We are particularly concerned about inadequate drug surveillance and pharmacovigilance capacity, especially in the African region. We therefore call upon our development partners to assist,” said Tshabalala-Msimang.
She repeated these views in a number of other presentations.
“When senior government representatives imply that anti-retroviral therapies are not safe they sow confusion and compromise our efforts to ensure that people access and adhere to treatment,” said Sonke and POWA.
By Kerry Cullinan
11 March 2009