TAC Electronic Newsletter


30 June 2005

Contents

Joint Statement of the SACP and COSATU in Khayelitsha: Dr. Rath Health Foundation – SACP Provincial Office

22 June 2005


The South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) in Khayelitsha (together called “the Alliance” here) held a meeting on Wednesday, 22 June 2005, to gain a better understanding of the Western Cape Department of Health’s strategy to fight HIV/AIDS. This meeting followed two other Alliance meetings where leaders of the SACP, COSATU, the African National Congress, and the South African National Civics Organisation (SANCO) attended. The organizations agreed that they need more clarity on the Department’s strategy. This need is particularly urgent because of the confusing messages that communities are getting about treatment for HIV/AIDS. Therefore, the Alliance has issued a joint statement—its summary follow:

The Dr. Rath Health Foundation claims that its vitamin products can be used by people living with from HIV/AIDS as an alternative treatment to antiretroviral drugs. The Rath Foundation has facilities in Khayelitsha where it distributes its products to people with HIV/AIDS. The Alliance became aware of the Rath Foundation’s activities through newsletters it distributes in public places, the media, and through pamphlets distributed by SANCO in Khayelitsha, which has been recommending the Rath Foundations’ remedies as an effective treatment against HIV/AIDS.

The Alliance (SACP and COSATU) does not support any unregistered individuals and institutions like the Dr. Rath Health Foundation or their agents who conduct experiments with untested treatments for HIV/AIDS on people. The HIV/AIDS pandemic is a national crisis that requires serious and informed interventions. Therefore the Alliance takes it as its duty to inform the people of Khayelitsha who are infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS to trust the government’s interventions in the fight against this pandemic.

It is the government’s policy to provide antiretroviral treatment to people with HIV/AIDS. And the budget strategy and aggregates for 2003/2004 indicate that the Western Cape government strives to “fight HIV/AIDS and other diseases in a co-ordinated and comprehensive manner which includes the provision of antiretroviral drugs, lifestyle intervention and sustained action against poverty.”* The provincial HIV/AIDS plan is detailed and includes a number of wide-reaching elements to address the HIV epidemic.

Moreover, the national Medicines Control Council (MCC) has registered antiretrovirals as safe and effective. Overwhelming scientific evidence shows that the benefits of antiretrovirals outweigh their risks. On the other hand, the Dr. Rath Health Foundation’s medicines are not registered, and they are untested and unproven. The vitamins that the Rath Foundation distributes are not the same vitamins that have been found to be useful for people with HIV. In fact, they contain dangerously high dosages of vitamin C that cause diarrhoea, which is extremely dangerous for people with AIDS. These vitamins also contain a substance that has not been registered with the MCC—this is against the law.

In order to make the community of Khayelitsha aware of the harmfulness of the Rath Foundation, the Alliance pledges:
• Full support of the Treatment Action Campaign in its court case against the Rath Foundation and for the speedy national government rollout of antiretroviral treatment
• To hold public meetings in SACP and COSATU branches and workplaces
• Engage government, community organizations, churches and schools
• Use the media – via press releases and advertisements
• Conduct blitzes at train stations and taxi ranks
• To march and picket in support of getting antiretroviral treatment to everyone who needs it

In conclusion, the SACP and COSATU in Khayelitsha will spare no effort in ensuring that the public health system remains the primary provider of health care to the workers and the poor of Khayelitsha and other areas in the Western Cape. We cannot afford even a day of confusion in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The government programme to roll out antiretrovirals should be strengthened and public health facilities should be the preferred providers of health care services to the people.

SACP and COSATU will ensure that they use all the legal means at their disposal to banish the Rath Foundation and his products from Khayelitsha. They will also support other communities that will want to follow suit in rejecting the Dr. Rath Health Foundation and its vitamins.

The SACP/COSATU- Khayelitsha Joint Statement: Dr. Rath Health Foundation can be found in its entirety here: http://www.tac.org.za/Documents/Left%20Statement%20TAC%20edit.doc

Join the South African Communist Party (SACP) –Brian Bunting (Khayelitsha) District in Mandela Park Stadium in Khayelitsha on Saturday, 2 July 2005 in a march and demonstration against The Dr. Rath Health Foundation.

* Citation: http://www.idasa.org.za/gbOutputFiles.asp?WriteContent=Y&RID=644

[END OF SACP/COSATU JOINT STATEMENT]

Both HIV Positive, Married and Taking ARVs, A community story by Busisiwe and Themba Radebe as told to Lerato Maloka

My name is Busisiwe Radebe, I was raised in Soweto in the location called White City. I relocated to the Vaal area after being diagnosed HIV positive and rejected by my family. I then joined a support group at Bervily Hills were I met my husband Themba Radebe who is the co-founder of the support group. The first time when my husband proposed love to me, I was not interested, but the second time on the 6 November 2003 we got involved.

“The main purpose of opening the support group was to help HIV positive people to live openly with their status on that process I met my beautiful wife” said Themba Radebe. The couple dated for 6 month and are now married. Mr Radebe further said the most important thing that attracted him to his wife was that she is a brave woman who never gave up life. Busisiwe was often sick but managed to recover. She is also blessed with two beautiful children Themba who is 14 and Mongezi who is 14.

Themba and Busisiwe are both HIV positive, and attend church at Rivers of Living Waters which is situated in Evaton. Pastor Zondo gave them a house congratulating them on their marriage. The house also works as a centre to help HIV positive people. “The church supported us all through the way and we never spent a cent in our marriage,” said the couple.

Busisiwe and Themba Radebe are both taking ARVs. Busisiwe started on 19 October 2004 when her CD4 count was 53 — it is now is 413. Themba started ARVs on the 13 March 2005 — his CD4 count is 202.

They will like to encourage those who are living with HIV to accept their status, understand and respect life. “People living with HIV should marry one another as they will give each other support and understanding,” said Themba. Themba and Busisiwe both attended the TAC PWA sector treatment literacy workshop in Gauteng and said that further training in HIV/AIDS help both of them to help others by encouraging them to take ARVs and adhere to treatment

[END OF BUSISIWE AND THEMBA RADEBE’S STORY]

TAC 3rd National Congress, 2005 -- "BUILD WOMEN AND PLWA LEADERSHIP FOR A PEOPLE'S HEALTH SERVICE"



From 23–25 September, the Treatment Action Campaign will hold its 3rd National Congress in Cape Town. In preparation, Provincial Congresses will take place in all provinces where TAC has a membership base.

Seven years after its establishment, this Congress marks a significant era for the Treatment Action Campaign. It takes place in the context of South Africa's Comprehensive Plan for HIV/AIDS care, which includes the management of a national HIV/AIDS treatment plan, which is approaching eighteen months of existence. In addition, the Congress will offer an opportunity to evaluate the progress of the HIV/AIDS/STD Strategic Plan For South Africa, 2000–2005, as it has reached its final year.

This Congress is also significant because it provides an opportunity for the organisation to reflect on its past work and discuss strategies for moving forward. At this Congress new TAC leadership — National and Provincial Executive Committees — will be elected through a democratic process in which its members will participate.

The chosen theme for this Congress is "Building Women and PLWA Leadership for a People's Health Service". The Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care, Management and Treatment for South Africa, which was adopted in November 2003, called for 120,000 people to be on antiretrovirals by March 2005. Since the there are only about 42,000 people currently using antiretrovirals, TAC has begun a “200,000 by 2006” campaign that calls for a target of at least 200,000 people to be on treatment by the end of 2006. TAC sees this Congress as an opportunity to regroup and galvanize its members to commit to this campaign as well as to develop a plan to ensure treatment for all who need it.

It can be said that the public mobilisation that took place surrounding its first two congresses, resulted in the advancement in government policy surrounding HIV/AIDS. After its congress in 2003, the government announced the Operational Plan. We look forward to similar successes after this year’s Congress.

Provincial Congresses:

Eastern Cape (30/31 July)
Mpumalanga (6-7 August)
Kwa-Zulu Natal (13 August)
Gauteng (13 August)
Limpopo (20–21 August)
Western Cape (26–27 August)

National Congress:
In Cape Town (22–25 September)

[END OF TAC CONGRESS STORY]

[END OF NEWSLETTER]