TAC Electronic Newsletter

18 August 2005

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The Draft Health Charter: An agreement for transformation or inequality?

On Tuesday 16 August, the AIDS Law Project (ALP), South African Medical Association and TAC, endorsed by NEHAWU and HOSPERSA, held a press conference to raise concerns about the draft Health Charter.

A summary of the ALP/TAC submission on the Health Charter is available here on the TAC website.

Here are the key points that we have made about the Health Charter:

In addition, the South African Council of Churches sent the following letter to the Minister of Health:

15 August 2005

The Hon Dr ME Tshabalala-Msimang
Minister of Health
Private Bag X399

Dear Dr Tshabalala-Msimang


The South African Council of Churches applauds the Ministry's efforts to develop a Health Charter.  We believe that such a Charter has the potential to harmonise the efforts of public, private and non-profit sector health service provision to transform the health care system and to promote just and equitable access to quality health care for all South Africans.

We have had an opportunity to review the comments on the Draft Health Charter submitted jointly by the AIDS Law Project and the Treatment Action Campaign.  We feel that their response is largely consistent with the policies and principles of the SACC.

In particular, the Council wishes to endorse the ALP/TAC's contention that:

As a member of the People's Budget Campaign, the SACC also remains committed to the People's Budget call for the abolition of the present two-tiered health system and the introduction of a unitary National Health Insurance scheme that harnesses all of the country's health resources.  Although such an arrangement would leave room for private providers, it would do so through a national health system. We have been critical of Social Health Insurance options on the grounds that they would perpetuate the current dualistic system of health care delivery that obstructs the achievement of greater equity in provision of health care.

We trust that there will be further opportunities for engagement on the content of the health charter and we look forward to taking part in these ongoing discussions.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Molefe Tsele
General Secretary


Getting infected as a truck driver

By FS, as told to Sibongile Mashele

My name is FS and I was born in 1946 at Lydenburg. I was raised by my grandmother and my parents got divorced when I was young. Then my father had to go back to Mozambique. So  my sister and I had to live with my grandmother.

I spent my teenage years in Lydenburg where I attended my school. I never completed my matric because my girlfriend got pregnant and I had to go and work to provide for my family. In 1965 I started working as a switchboard operator at a hotel. I then moved to work in another company as a clerk in 1973. In 1978 I started driving at Ngodwana and then resigned in 1987. Just after that I got a job as a truck driver doing deliveries for a spice factory and I had to resign in 1990 because the company had to move to Jo’burg. In 1991 I worked as a bus driver until 1999 where I retired as a driver.

In my younger days I loved sex too much. I slept with many kinds of women and wasn’t using condoms for protection. Even though I slept around I had a wife at home. I think it was because I was doing a lot of traveling.

I first found out that I was HIV-positive in 1985. I had a problem peeing. It was as if my pipes were blocked. Then the doctor advised me to take an HIV test and I tested positive. At that time I didn’t know about HIV. The only thing that I knew was that HIV kills. Then the doctor advised me to take care of myself and to make sure I use a condom everytime I have sex. At that time condoms were only available at the pharmacy.

I once had TB in 1977. I took TB treatment but couldn’t finish my treatment because where I lived there was no access to TB treatment and I had to travel to Nelspruit for treatment. Years later TB re-occurred. I had to stay in hospital for a month and then continue my treatment at home. Since then I have not had TB again. I have experienced Drop and it re-occurred several times.
Because I was having unprotected sex with many people aI got infected with HIV. After I knew about my status I always used condoms, even though I couldn’t disclose to my sexual partners. If they didn’t want to use condoms I would break up with them. At home with my wife I was using condoms till it came to a point whereby my wife desperately wanted a baby and we didn’t use condoms and she fell pregnant and the baby died. We then tried later on and she gave birth to a baby boy who is now 11 years old. My wife then tested years after that and she tested HIV-negative. She also had another test and she still tested negative.

One thing that I took from my doctor was that I must make sure that everytime I had sex I should use a condom. If you are HIV-positive you must seek information about HIV and that will help you understand how to deal with HIV. Also make sure that you join a support group in your area.