For Widest Distribution
"DEVELOP AN ARV PLAN FOR THE PUBLIC SECTOR IN ONE MONTH" --CABINET INSTRUCTION WELCOMED BY THE TREATMENT ACTION CAMPAIGN
8 August 2003
There iscause for celebration and optimism. Government has decided to provideanti-retroviral therapy in the public sector in South Africa.
The TreatmentAction Campaign (TAC) welcomes the Cabinet's instruction to the Department ofHealth to develop an operational plan within one month to provide ARVs in thepublic sector. The Cabinet endorsed the findings of the Joint Health andTreasury Task Team Report that between 500 000 and 1.7 million lives will besaved with anti-retroviral therapy. It also reaffirmed the science of HIV/AIDSpathogenesis and treatment.
This is acritical step to develop a more comprehensive treatment and prevention plan formanaging the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Properly implemented, this will restore hope,dignity and life for millions of people in our country, and, hope throughoutthe continent. This will also give doctors, nurses and communities theopportunity to work together with government to build a better health caresystem that meets the needs of all people in South Africa.
The TACNational Executive will formally suspend the civil disobedience campaign andreconsider pending litigation early next week. We welcome Cabinet's boldstep today but we also remember the anguish, pain and unnecessary loss of livesover the last four years.
The end ofpolicy and political vacillation reveals the real hard work to all of us. TACpledges to put its full weight and support behind the successful implementationof all interventions aimed at alleviating the HIV epidemic. We will work withgovernment to save lives and build a better health service. The privatesector, drug companies, civil society, international agencies and individualsneed to redouble our efforts to improve prevention, treatment and care. We salute the efforts of every person living with HIV/AIDS, doctors, nurses,scientists, government administrators and all people who contributed to thereport and the struggle for a treatment and prevention plan. Let's get to work!
[END OF TACRESPONSE TO CABINET STATEMENT]
STATEMENT ON SPECIAL CABINET MEETING: ENHANCED PROGRAMME AGAINST HIVAND AIDS, 8 August 2003
Cabinet todayconvened in a special meeting to consider the Report of the Joint Health andTreasury Task Team on treatment options to enhance comprehensive care forHIV/AIDS in the public sector. A summary of the Report can be found on thegovernment website, www.gov.za
The Reportdeals with various challenges, including in particular, a programme toadminister anti-retrovirals to enhance the quality of life of those who havereached an advanced stage of the Syndrome, and it proposes various scenarios indealing with this matter. The Report proceeds from the premise that newdevelopments pertaining to prices of drugs, the growing body of knowledge onthis issue, wide appreciation of the role of nutrition, and availability ofbudgetary resources do enable government to consider this enhanced response.
The meetingreiterated government's principled approach that antiretroviral drugs do helpimprove the quality of life of those at a certain stage of the development ofAIDS, if administered properly.
Further,Cabinet noted that, as we consider details pertaining to this enhancedtreatment programme, it is critical that we do not lower our guard as a nation,because there is no cure for AIDS.
It also notedthe assertions in the Report that a primary challenge in our situation is toensure that the 40 million South Africans who are not infected with HIV staythat way; and that those who are infected but have not as yet progressed to anadvanced stage of AIDS lead a normal life through proper nutrition, healthylifestyles and treatment of opportunistic infections. In other words, noteveryone who is infected with HIV would need antiretroviral treatment.
Cabinetdecided that the Department of Health should, as matter of urgency, develop adetailed operational plan on an antiretroviral treatment programme. TheDepartment will be assisted in this work by South African experts as well asspecialists from the Clinton Foundation AIDS Initiative who have not onlyoffered to contribute to this effort; but have also been of great assistance incommenting on the work done thus far.
It isexpected that this detailed work would be completed by the end of September2003.
Governmentshares the impatience of many South Africans on the need to strengthen thenation's armoury in the fight against AIDS. Cabinet will therefore ensure thatthe remaining challenges are addressed with urgency; and that the final productguarantees a programme that is effective and sustainable.
8 August 2003
Issued by:Government Communications (GCIS)
[END OFCABINET STATEMENT]
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