The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) was founded in December 1998 to campaign for access to AIDS treatment. It is widely acknowledged as one of the most important civil society organisations active on AIDS in the developing world. One of its most significant victories was the 2002 Constitutional Court ruling in which the South African government was ordered to provide anti-retroviral drugs to prevent transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies during birth. In the years following the judgment the TAC’s campaigns were instrumental in securing a universal government-provided AIDS treatment programme, which has since become the world’s largest. In 2006 the New York Times called the TAC “the world’s most effective AIDS group,” while the founding director of UNAIDS, Dr Peter Piot, has written that “TAC was in my opinion the smartest activist group of all, worldwide.” In 2007, in large part owing to pressure from the TAC, the National Strategic Plan on HIV, STIs and Tuberculosis 2007-2011 was adopted by Parliament.
Today the TAC continues to represent users of the public healthcare system in South Africa, and to campaign and litigate on critical issues related to the quality of and access to healthcare. The organisation currently has over 8,000 members and a network of 182 branches and provincial offices in seven of South Africa’s nine provinces. Members elect the leadership of the organisation, which ensures accountability and that the TAC’s policies reflect the realities on the ground. Members receive basic training in the science of HIV, TB and related conditions, and about their rights in the healthcare system. Through its branches and members the TAC monitors thousands of clinics and hospitals. Its members are the people who need the public health system to work, so they are the first to notice when it doesn’t. In addition to the large national campaigns, the local activism of the TAC’s members is the true life-blood of the organisation. By organising locally, our members demand accountability and quality healthcare services where the services are actually delivered.
TAC is launched on the steps of St Georges Cathedral
TAC marches to Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, calling for a national prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) programme
Thabo Mbeki is elected as president and Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is appointed as minister of health – the era of government-endorsed AIDS denialism begins shortly after.
TAC imports generic fluconazole in defiance of Pfizer’s patent
Médecins Sans Frontières establishes first antiretroviral treatment programme in Khayelitsha
TAC starts litigation against Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, demanding PMTCT
TAC is admitted as “friend of the court” opposing the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association after 40 drug companies sue South Africa for trying to improve access to medicines. Soon after TAC is admitted the PMA withdraws their case.
The Constitutional Court rules in favour of TAC, forcing government to provide nevirapine to pregnant mothers
TAC launches civil disobedience campaign
Hazel Tau wins Competition Commission complaint over the excessive pricing of antiretrovirals (wins is too strong a word. The commission refers the case to the tribunal and TAC then negotiate VLs that facilitate access)
TAC member Lorna Mlofana is murdered after revealing her HIV status
Government slowly begins to roll out antiretroviral treatment
Matthias Rath arrives in Khayelitsha, peddling false cures for HIV.
TAC members in Eastern Cape Marched to Frontier Hospital in Queenstown to demand people who were on a long waiting list to be initiated on ARV treatment. Rubber bullets were shot at TAC members in Queenstown fighting for their rights to life.
TAC launches campaign against gender-based violence.
TAC wins court case establishing the right of prisoners to access treatment.
National Strategic Plan on HIV, TB and STls is adopted.
Government adopts new PMTCT protocols.
Doctors in KwaZulu-Natal fired for providing PMTCT to pregnant mothers.
TAC organises civil society response to xenophobic violence.
Cape Town High Court rules that Rath’s activities are unlawful.
Thabo Mbeki is removed from the presidency and Manto Tsha-balala-Msimang is replaced by Barbara Hogan – Motsoaledi only comes in a year or so later when Mothlante makes way for Zuma.
Free State ARV moratorium results in hundreds of unnecessary deaths.
New government signals an end to denialism and announces improved treatment guidelines, massive scale-up of ARVs begins.
South Africa has the biggest treatment programme in the world.
TAC holds a picket to demand the phase out of Stavudine (D4T) as a first line treatment in the public healthcare sector.
Collapse of the medicines supply chain from the Mthatha Medical Depot causes widespread stockouts at healthcare facilities in the Eastern Cape.
TAC launches a new guide for survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) and activists working to combat GBV in their communities.
TAC and MSF interrupt the Minister of Trade and Industry at the Africa IP Forum to demand patent law reform in South Africa.
TAC pickets outside Pollsmoor Prison on World TB Day to raise concerns about the high rate of TB infection in South Africa’s prisons.
TAC receives funding in Limpopo for ensuring migrants ability to access to healthcare and treatment in Mopani, leading to the formulation of the Migrants Health Forum in 2014.
Community members in Lusikisiki complain as they must go to the clinic to be treated in tents at Village Clinic.
TAC provinces coordinated a nationwide day of action to demand an end to the ongoing medicine stockout crisis ravaging across South Africa – as well as to demand urgent action to address the deterioration of quality healthcare services in various parts of the country.
TAC, SECTION27 and MSF march to the DTI to hand over a submission of recommendations on the draft IP policy. Over 130 organisations and experts demand patent law reform in South Africa.
The Stop Stockouts Project (SSP) is launched to address stockouts and shortages of medicines in the country.
Bishop Nala in KwaZulu-Natal claims his holy water can cure HIV. TAC fights back at this quackery.
1000 comrades from TAC and SEC-TION27 march to government’s World AIDS Day event in Piet Retief to demand the Deputy President address the healthcare crisis, food shortages, medicine stock-outs, and lack of healthcare professionals affecting the country.
Leaked emails and documents show the pharmaceutical industry plot to derail patent law reform process in South Africa, in #PharmaGate scandal.
TAC hold pickets outside pharmaceutical company MSD and the Innovative Pharmaceutical Association of South Africa (IPASA) to demand accountability as both are implicated in the #PharmaGate scandal.
TAC leads marches in Cape Town and Pretoria calling for a final intellectual property policy before the elections.
TAC launches the People’s Health Manifesto to demand acountability from politicians in the run up to elections. Political parties are asked to answer 11 questions on healthcare.
A reunion of TAC stalwarts is held in Johannesburg commemorating 10 years of ARVs.
ANC Youth League call for the deregistration of TAC following release of a satire newspaper reporting that MEC Malakoane was fired.
Whistleblower doctors release letter listing a number of specific and very serious allegations relating to the collapse of the Free State healthcare system.
TAC leads 5,000 people in landmark #WeDieOfTB march to parliament demanding that MPs get tested for TB, and that Parliament holds government departments to account on TB.
Renowned musician Johnny Clegg joins the fight against TB and drug-resistant TB.
Results of START trial show that all people living with HIV should start ARVs as soon as possible to prevent a worsening of health.
Over 1000 delegates at the South African AlDS Conference sign a petition calling for the charges to be dropped against the #BopheloHouse94.
More than 60 people from Free State testify to the horrors in accessing healthcare at the ”People’s Commission of Inquiry into the Free State Health System” in Bloemfontein.
TAC and Sanke Gender Justice are admitted as amid curiae (“friends of the court”) in Nkala and others v Harmony Gold and others, a class action against South African gold mines.
TAC leads 1,000 mothers, pregnant women and activists in a march to the Western Cape Provincial Parliament to demand urgent action to address the ongoing problems in accessing quality maternal and obstetric care services in the province.
The South Gauteng High Court hears historic case seeking justice for former mine workers who developed silicosis and/or tuberculosis because of the neglect of mining companies. TAC, Sanke Gender Justice, and SECTION27 lead 1000 people in a march to the high court. Interactive photography exhibit by Thom Pierce is hosted by the organisations in the Methodist Church.
TAC starts Change Management process and a revised strategy with four key campaigns is endorsed.
TAC holds pickets in Ermelo and Witbank to demand an end to discrimination of sex workers and LGBTQIA+ community members by the police.
TAC makes submission to the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines and leads advocacy around the Johannesburg hearings. The Johannesburg Declaration is handed to panel members at a picket outside the hearing.
People’s Health Assemblies take place across the country at district, provincial and national level to assess the state of healthcare in the country and develop joint responses to address challenges.
The Free State Health Crisis Coalition is launched with a march to the Provincial Prosecuting Authority in Bloemfontein.
TAC leads a march of over 8,000 people through the streets of Durban demanding #treatment4all across the world as the International AIDS Conference is held in Durban, 16 years after the landmark 2000 conference.
TAC welcomes an announcement by the Minister of Health that all people living with HIV in South Africa can start ARVs regardless of CD4 count.
The report of the United Nations High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines is released that strengthens the case for patent law reform in South Africa.
The Fix the Patent Laws coalition grows to 34 organisations representing people of all diseases and conditions. The new coalition marches to the DTI to hand over a submission of recommendations on the IP Consultative Framework.
Benny Malakoane is removed as MEC of Health – TAC campaigned for his removal for more than two years. Under Malakoane’s watch the public healthcare system in the province went from crisis to crisis.
TAC receives funding in Limpopo for ensuring migrants ability to access to healthcare and treatment in Mopani, Sex workers in Ermelo report that following TAC’s interventions with law enforcement and the Mpumalanga MEC of Health, they no longer face abuse and harassment by police in the area.leading to the formulation of the Migrants Health Forum in 2014.
TAC launches #ClinicslnCrisis campaign to demand better local health services. The campaign is launched with a public dialogue in Khujwana, Limpopo that hears testimonies to the dysfunction in the local clinic.
Comrade Tobeka Daki dies of cancer after leading our campaign for access to trastuzumab.
The convictions of the #BopheloHouse94 are overturned in the High Court. This is a major victory for the right to protest.
TAC branches across the country take part in a month of action for our #ClinicslnCrisis campaign, holding marches, pickets and sit ins to demand better healthcare services at a local level.
TAC holds a night vigil in Daveyton to hear how community members are struggling to access healthcare. The following morning, TAC marches to the government’s World AIDS Day “celebration” to hand a memorandum to the Minister of Health and Deputy President.
Qedani Mahlangu resigns as MEC of Health in Gauteng following the report into the deaths of at least 94 mentally ill patients in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. TAC calls for her to face criminal charges.
The “Tobeka Daki Campaign for Access to Trastuzumab” is launched at a global day of action demanding access to breast cancer treatment. 108 organisations sign a memorandum to pharmaceutical company Roche demanding they drop the price of trastuzumab.
In the run up to World TB Day, TAC assessed the state of TB infection control in a number of clinics across South Africa. Of 158 facilities assessed, 114 were found to be in a “RED” state with very poor infection control measures in place.
TAC Gauteng launches a fact-finding mission into the state of hospitals across the province after the collapse of the roof at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital.
TAC and SECTION27 refuse to endorse the new NSP 2017-22 that fails to reflect the realities of healthcare on the ground and rampant corruption in the country.
Healthcare workers in KwaZulu-Natal reveal shocking details that show the provincial healthcare system is in a state of emergency, and no longer delivering adequate healthcare to the most vulnerable.
After the brutal murders of countless women and LGBTQIA+ people, TAC calls for action to address patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia and violence against women and LGBTQIA+ communities in our society.
The Fix the Patent Laws coalition welcomes the Competition Commission’s announcement that they will investigate the pricing of several cancer medicines in South Africa.
TAC, SECTION27, RHAP, the LRC and other partner organisations deliver our concerns to South African AIDS Conference delegates with regard to the weakening of the NSP, and the corruption and mismanagement issues at SANAC.
TAC Deputy General Secretary delivers a revolutionary pledge to fallen comrades Prudence Mabele and Mark Wainberg at the opening of the International AlDS Society Conference in Paris. We remind people that AlDS is not over.
TAC & SECTION27 react to the growing crisis at the National Health Laboratories Services (NHLS) that threatens access to essential healthcare services, particularly for HIV and TB.
The long awaited intellectual property (IP) policy is finally released by Cabinet after 6 years of campaigning. This is a major victory for TAC and the Fix the Patent Laws campaign. #FixPatentLaw
TAC holds its 6th National Congress and a new leadership is elected with a fresh mandate.
TAC & SECTION27 engage in a fact-finding mission at hospitals across the Free State. Reports uncovered serious problems that put people’s right to access health-care in jeopardy.
TAC plays a critical role in the PEPFAR Country Operational Plan, 2018.
TAC provinces conducts health care facility monitoring in all seven provinces. In June TAC releases state of health in the province reports that focuses on health care challenges in each of the seven provinces.
TAC leadership visits and works in North West province because there’s a provincial uprising that led to the total shutdown of all services including health care services in the province.
TAC, Corruption Watch and SECTION27 came together to call for action to be taken against the ANC’s Gauteng provincial legislature Chief Whip Brian Hlongwa and the province’s former MEC for Health, Qedani Mahlangu.
TAC celebrates its 20th anniversary at Constitution Hill, started with a night vigil on the 9th December, followed by a march to the Constitutional Court to pledge our support to Constitutional Court for defending and protecting the constitutional rights of People living with HIV, TB and public health care users of S.A.
TAC delegation visits North West (Krugersdorp) province to conduct health care facility monitoring to monitor the provision and quality of healthcare services including HIV and TB services in the province.
TAC conducts facility monitoring in Gauteng and Free State accompanied by officials from the office of health DG to assess the severity of the shortage of ARV treatment in the two provinces.
TAC, in conjunction with other PLHIV sector organisations, namely the Positive Action Campaign, Positive Women’s Network, SANERELA+ and NAPWA start community-led monitoring work as part of a two month design phase under COP18.
The Health Market Inquiry final findings and recommendations report is released. It is a damning account of the role played by private health care providers.
The Ritshidze Project commences as part of the COP19 grant. At its zenith, the project will monitor 400 PEPFAR supported sites in 27 districts. These are located in 8 out of 9 provinces (bar Northern Cape).
TAC holds a regional workshop focusing on SRHR and key populations on social mobilization and advocacy with delegates from the SADC region.
TAC holds its 21st Anniversary, commemorating 21 years of saving lives.
1068 bottles of ARVs are stolen in Bloemfontein, 268 bottles of ARVs stolen in Ventersburg and 265 bottles of ARVs stolen in Kroonstad. TAC members and other PLHIV Sector organizations holding picket in these courts demanding that the people who were arrested on these three cases not to be granted bail for stealing the life-saving medicines of PLHIV.
TAC holds National strategic review and planning meeting followed by National Council meeting.