TAC Electronic Newsletter
18 August 2005
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- The Draft Health Charter: An agreement for
- Key points on the draft Health Charter
- TAC/ALP submission
to the Department of Health on the draft
Health Charter (endorsed by NACTU and South African Catholic Bishops
- A letter has been sent by the South African Council of Churches
to the Minister of Health raising concerns about the draft Health
- Getting infected as a truck driver. As told
to Sibongile Mashele
- Ebrahim Patel, General-Secretary of SACTWU, will deliver the
second Ashley Kriel Annual Youth Lecture on 18 August 2005 (tonight).
for 19h00. Venue: Great Hall at UWC.
The Draft Health Charter: An agreement for
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
Here are the key points that we have made about the Health Charter:
- We support the Health Charter and acknowledge the task team's
effort to develop it.
- Regrettably, there are a number of serious flaws that require
significant reconsideration and substantial redrafting.
- The health charter was drafted without sufficient consultation.
Both civil society and health-care unions were left out of the
consultation process and this is reflected by the emphasis of the draft.
- The deadline for making submissions, i.e. 15 August, was too
- The draft does not make the purpose of the Health Charter clear.
- For us, the Health Charter must be used to secure agreements
necessary for transforming the health sector. This means reducing
inequality between the private and public sector, moving towards a
unified health system and developing a minimum package of care and
service that all public sector patients should receive.
- The emphasis of the Health Charter is currently on Black Economic
Empowerment (BEE) and transfer of ownership. Concrete targets are
established for this. We support BEE, but transfer of ownership will
not on its own translate to better health-care for the majority of
South Africans, especially poor people. Although the charter contains
much rhetoric about improved health for poor people, no concrete
targets are set for reducing inequality or improving patient care. The
Health Charter has no concrete recommendations around National Health
Insurance and does not adequately consider the provisions of the
recently passed National Health Act. Nor are targets established for
increasing the number of black health professionals (e.g. pathologists,
doctors, dentists etc.). A broad-based BEE approach would consider
these factors, but they are neglected in the charter.
In addition, the South African Council of Churches sent the following
letter to the Minister of Health:
- None of the targets set for the private sector are aimed at
improving health-care generally or the public sector in particular.
15 August 2005
The Hon Dr ME Tshabalala-Msimang
Minister of Health
Private Bag X399
Dear Dr Tshabalala-Msimang
Re: DRAFT HEALTH CHARTER
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
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
- All stakeholders must be party to the Charter, including
providers in all sectors, health care workers and organisations
representing people who use health care services;
- The Charter should be informed by a vision of a unitary health
care system which provides an essential set of quality health care
services to all South Africans on an affordable basis, taking into
account each user's ability to pay;
- These objectives of transformation, equity and universal
provision of quality services through a unified system should be more
clearly articulated in the Charter's objectives;
- The Charter should set measurable goals and time frames for the
realisation of the vision set out in existing legislation and policy
- Government must take charge of implementation, including the
introduction of measures to control spiralling health care costs;
- Consumers of health care services should participate fully in
structures set up to regulate the health care system;
- The subsidising of private health care should be phased out; and
- The Health Charter is not the most appropriate place to address
BEE concerns insofar as they deal with the structure of ownership of
private health care enterprises rather than the extension of equal
access to quality treatment to all South Africans.
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.
Dr. Molefe Tsele
[END OF HEALTH CHARTER - BACK TO CONTENTS]
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
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
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
[END OF TRUCK DRIVER'S STORY - BACK TO CONTENTS]
[END OF NEWSLETTER]