TAC LAUNCHES URGENT CONTEMPT OF COURT APPLICATION AGAINST MPUMALANGA HEALTH MEC 17 December 2002 The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has today made an application to the Pretoria High Court against the Mpumlanga MEC for Health, Ms. Sibongile Manana and the Minister of Health, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang. The application shows that the MEC for Health has failed to implement the Constitutional Court's order on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It seeks an order compelling her to provide information on what steps she has taken, intends to take and when to implement mother-to-child transmission prevention. It also asks the court to find that she has been in contempt of the Constitutional Court judgment. Although the National Department of Health has committed to implementing the Constitutional Court judgment, it is the duty of National Government to ensure that provinces meet their Constitutional duties. Therefore, the application names the Minister of Health, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, as a second respondent and asks the court to order her to ensure that mother-to-child transmission prevention is implemented in Mpumalanga. Since July 2002, the TAC has corresponded extensively with the Director- General of Health, Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba, regarding implementation of the court's orders. Dr. Ntsaluba has co-operated with us and has been at pains to assure us of the Department's committment to complying with the court orders. We have also found the Western Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng and North-West provincial Government to be committed to the success of mother- to-child transmission prevention programmes. However, the Mpumalanga Department of Health, has followed a diametrically opposite path. It has misrepresented the extent of its actions, refused to respond to correspondence and delayed the implementation of mother-to-child transmission prevention. These delays have negligently cost the lives of children. The TAC regrets that we have had to take this action. Tragically, five months after the Constitutional Court order there appear to be only two hospitals in Mpumalanga providing Nevirapine for mother-to-child HIV transmission prevention. Ms. Manana has shown disdain for the lives of children and the dignity of their parents. Her failure to implement life- saving policies has made working conditions intolerable for many public sector nurses and doctors. She and her department have brought the Government, the National Department of Health and the ANC into disrepute. We urge them to remove Ms. Manana and to ensure the immediate rollout of mother-to-child transmission prevention in Mpumalanga. For further details, please contact: Zackie Achmat: 083 467 1152 Vuyiseka Dubula: 082 763 3005 Mandla Majola (from 18 December only): 072 424 7181 For immediate access to the court papers, download them from: http://www.tac.org.za/Documents/MTCTCourtCase/MP-contempt1-20021216.doc and http://www.tac.org.za/Documents/MTCTCourtCase/MP-contempt2-20021216.doc After 6 January, the papers will be linked to the main TAC website and will also be available on request from email@example.com.