CAPE TOWN, 17th June: Today activists from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) demonstrated outside Parliament to demand the urgent finalisation of South Africa’s Intellectual Property (IP) Policy before the end of July 2014 – almost one year after the publication of the draft policy in the Government Gazette. In contrast to the activities inside Parliament, the activists were dressed in patient gowns and walked a ‘black carpet’. The activists aimed to highlight the reality for many patients across South Africa who are unable to access the medicines they need because they are unavailable, unsuitable or unaffordable.
75 civil society organisations from across the globe signed an open letter to Minister Rob Davies calling on the South African government to finalise and adopt the policy without further delay (full text of the open letter below).
“Healthcare is not a privilege for the few,” said the TAC’s General Secretary Anele Yawa. “We cannot afford to wait any longer for these critical and long overdue reforms to come into effect. They will dramatically increase affordability of key new HIV, tuberculosis, cancer and hepatitis medicines.”
“The draft policy has already been in development for over six years at the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI),” said Mary-Jane Matsolo from the TAC. “In fact this is now the third South African administration that has presided over the process. The policy has been extensively consulted on. Further delays are unacceptable and are putting lives at risk. If the policy is not finalised by the end of July we will be forced to consider stronger action – including litigation in terms of Section 27 of the Constitution.”
The reforms outlined in the IP Policy have the backing of both the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance. Both these parties committed to finalising the policy rapidly after the elections when they responded to the TAC’s ‘People’s Health Manifesto’ in March this year.
The changes put forward in the draft policy also have vocal support from Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi who announced at the closing ceremony of the South African TB Conference last Friday that the policy had not been finalised due to pressures around the election. Now that the election was over he told conference goers he would be making a pro-public health IP policy a priority for the Department of Health.
The TAC will hold these parties and individuals to their commitments.
More importantly, we will hold government to account for meeting their Constitutional obligation to institute reasonable legal reforms that will contribute to the realisation of the right to access healthcare.
For more information and to arrange interviews contact:
Lotti Rutter – firstname.lastname@example.org
/ +27 81 818 8493
– You can download the full open letter from civil society here:
– Previously, in October 2013, over 130 organisations and experts globally called on the South African Department of Trade and Industry to Fix the Patent Law in an open letter found here:
– Read the TAC/S27/MSF recommendations for improving the National IP Policy here:
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