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 info@tac.org.za.