Newsletter
 

28 April 2004

The Cabinet: A Chance to Start Afresh in the Health Sector

The Treatment Action Campaign welcomes the appointment of President Mbeki's new Cabinet

Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has been reappointed as Health Minister. Her team now includes Deputy-Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge as a deputy-health minister. We welcome the new appointment. Our relationship with the national Health Ministry has been fraught with tension and confrontation. This is a chapter in our history that we wish to put behind us. Our work with MECs, health departments at national, provincial, district and facility level can only be strengthened with a commitment to delivery.

The mandate of the Health Ministry and government is based on implementing a comprehensive policy on prevention, treatment and care of HIV/AIDS. This policy includes the use of condoms, behaviour change, prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission, post-exposure prophylaxis, adequate nutrition, treatment of opportunistic infection and co-infections such as tuberculosis, malaria and sexually-transmitted infections. Government's plan to roll-out anti-retroviral therapy, reduce stigma and to create openness on HIV prevention and treatment must be at the core of health-care delivery. TAC urges government in its work to create a quality public health service that serves all people in our country.

The re-appointment of Health Minister, Dr Manto Shabalala-Msimang will be a disappointment for many of us, especially the range of actors in the health sector. However, we urge Minister Tshabalala-Msimang to re-establish a working relationship in the interest of fulfilling the mandate of our people.

TAC supports government's commitment to inter-sectoral co-ordination of health-care delivery and HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. The appointment of Ms Bridgette Mabandla to the Justice Portfolio must prioritise the reduction of violence in our communities, particularly against women and children. In addition, we welcome the re-appointment of Minister Skweyiya to the Ministry of Social Development and Minister Trevor Manuel to Finance. The new appointments of Minister Naledi Pandor to the Education Ministry, Minister Mpahlwa to oversee the international trade agreements that impact on health, and Minister Lindiwe Sisulu to the Housing Ministry should re-invigorate an integrated approach to HIV/AIDS.

TAC has always supported government action that benefits the majority of our people, particularly poor and working class communities as a fulfilment of its mandate. This third term of the African National Congress as the government must be one that delivers on health, HIV/AIDS, social security and above all employment. We will support this progressive agenda.

We say again that to achieve delivery, it will be necessary for ordinary citizens to become more involved in social action. Partnership, constructive criticism and watchfulness from civil society are critical to successful delivery and ensuring that the ANC's massive election victory is turned into a better life for all. In this, we join the people's contract. [ENDS]