TAC’s 6th National Congress – time to fix the health system!

JOHANNESBURG, 22nd August 2017 – Tomorrow the Treatment Action Campaign’s (TAC) 6th National Congress starts in Johannesburg. The congress will set TAC’s priorities for the next three years and elect TAC’s national leadership for this period. The congress will conclude on Friday, 25 August. The congress will be addressed by, among others, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, and General Secretary of the South African Federation of Trade Unions, Zwelinzima Vavi.

We invite our supporters and members of the media to follow live updates from proceedings on twitter and facebook. Media is also invited to attend the opening ceremony and select parts of the programme.  

The first phase of TAC’s struggle ensured that people in South Africa living with HIV could access antiretroviral treatment. Together with many allies we brought an end to the dark days of AIDS denialism. Under the leadership of Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi South Africa’s HIV treatment programme has now grown to be the largest in the world and deaths due to HIV have declined rapidly.

As HIV treatment has become more widely available, TAC’s focus has in recent years shifted to reflect the hardships faced by our members when trying to access healthcare services in the public healthcare system. As we start our 2017 National Congress, this shift has fully crystalised in the recognition that the second phase of our struggle is for a healthcare system that provides quality treatment and care to all. This shift is already evident in much of our recent work (outlined in a report published today).

Today South Africa’s HIV and tuberculosis (TB) response is being undermined by dysfunctional, underfunded provincial and district healthcare systems and shortages of healthcare workers. Mismanagement and corruption has become pervasive in the public healthcare system at all levels. Given the state of the public healthcare system and the budgetary and human resource constraints facing provinces, the HIV and TB response is at risk of unravelling at a time when it should be expanding. More than 3 million people living with HIV in South Africa who need treatment are not on treatment. The drug-resistant TB epidemic is growing more quickly than we can contain it.

In this second phase of our struggle, our task is to fix the broken public healthcare system.

As before, our foundation and life-blood will be our members spread across seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. We will continue to empower ourselves by knowing our rights and by learning the basic science and treatment of HIV, TB and other conditions. We will remain committed to the Constitution and we will use it where we can to improve the lives of people in this country – irrespective of nationality, race, gender, class or ability.

TAC currently has over 5,800 paid up members and a network of nearly 200 accredited branches across seven provinces. TAC’s National Congress is our highest decision-making body. During the Congress, voting delegates from all of our accredited branches will elect TAC’s next national leadership and make resolutions on TAC’s strategic focus moving forward. Important policy discussions will take place on the crisis in the public healthcare system, the state of the HIV and TB response, medicine accessibility, violence against women and the LGBTQIA+ community, corruption and much more.

You can follow proceedings here on twitter and facebook.

For more information, to arrange interviews, or to attend the Congress contact:

Lotti Rutter | | 072 225 9675

Samara Ragaven | | 071 645 7579