The AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), the Treatment Action Campaign, the AIDS Law Project, the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa and the HIV Collaborative Fund call on the Government of Botswana to urgently grant access to treatment for multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB) patient Mthandazo Sibanda, who is being held in a maximum-security prison clinic in Gaborone pending his deportation to Zimbabwe. The grounds for deportation are his TB status and self-interruption of treatment in June, following months of mismanagement in the health care system.
Today is an important day for displaced people and a victory for Hirsi and TAC.
At the end of July 2008, the Treatment Action Campaign, the AIDS Law Project and Mahammud Hirsi took all tiers of government -with the Western Cape Provincial Government being the first respondent- to court after waiting for about 9 weeks to ensure that minimum norms and standards on sanitation, food and shelter amongst others would be implemented in places of shelter in accordance with our Constitution and the obligations we have under international law.
For many weeks, TAC stepped in to provide humanitarian relief because our government – the province and the city- failed to fulfil their Constitutional obligations. After it became clear that government was not executing its duties, despite requesting many times for it to develop norms and standards and to implement it, we approached the Cape High Court for relief. The case was due to be argued on 1 September 2008.
After we lodged our court papers, and while waiting for their response, today, we can announce that there is no longer a need to continue with the case as the provincial cabinet has approved a set of emergency guidelines – or norms and standards.
This is a presentation by Judge Edwin Cameron at the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City. He presents ten reasons why criminalisation of HIV transmission is a bad idea.
Pharmaceutical manufacturer Adcock Ingram has issued a recall of certain batches of Adco-Nevirapine and Adco-Zidovudine (what is commonly known as AZT) due to a packaging error. It was discovered by Adcock Ingram that blister packs of Adco-Nevirapine had been packed into nine packs of Adco-Zidovudine. The Nevirapine blister packs were labelled correctly but they had been inserted into AZT boxes.
As a precautionary measure Adcock Ingram is recalling entire batches of the affected anti-retroviral drugs (ARVs). The recalled boxes are: Adco-Nevirapine batch number 1J, expiry date January 2009; and Adco-Zidovudine batch number 1Z, expiry date November 2008. All recalled drugs will be replaced by the correct medication.
Do you remember where you were 8 years ago? I remember it distinctly. In the summer of 2000, I was in Durban for the first -and so far only - international AIDS conference held on African soil. There are many unkind things said about these events, but those few days in South Africa changed the lives of millions of people forever. I still get shivers when I remember the challenge directed at us by Edwin Cameron, a justice of the South African Supreme Court of Appeal and an openly HIV-positive, gay man. He said: Those of us who live affluent lives, well-attended by medical care and treatment, should not ask how Germans or white South Africans could tolerate living in proximity to moral evil. We do so ourselves today, in proximity to the impending illness and death of many millions of people with AIDS.
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The TAC is running out of funds to supply humanitarian relief to the approximately 5 000 displaced persons living in city and community halls and camps in the Western Cape. As of 30 July 2008 the TAC had spent R 2,744,891.50 on direct humanitarian assistance. The amount to date is now closer to R 2,900,000.00. The Joint Operation Centre (with both Provincial and City representatives) is still unable or unwilling to meet the basic needs of those displaced. This is especially concerning in the case of women and children and in particular those at smaller shelters which receive no government assistance. We have notified the JOC, Province and City that we will be unable to provide aid beyond Monday 11 August 2008. However, it appears that we will run short of funds even before this date. In addition we are concerned that urgent humanitarian intervention may need to be made in various instances after Monday 11 August.
TAC has launched a court action on behalf of people who have displaced by xenophobic violence. Papers for Hirsi and TAC v Provincial Government, City of Cape Town and Government of RSA were filed on Tuesday, 29 July 2008 in the High Court of South Africa, Cape of Good Hope Provincial Division. The court case seeks to address conditions in camps and safety sites housing displaced people in the Western Cape.
Govenment has stated that humanitarian aid will end on the 3rd September 2008. 5000 people remain displaced in consistently poor conditions.
TAC Treasurer Nathan Geffen and ARASA's former Regional Treatment Literacy Coordinator Gregg Gonsalves have recently co-authored an article describing the irrational actions of Act Up-Paris and some other organisations in recent years. Geffen and Gonsalves argue that the irrationality of these groups threatens the development of new treatment and prevention technologies for people with HIV and undermines scientific research programmes in developing countries.
You can download a copy of the article here.
The article was recently published in the Autumn issue of the Journal of the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society. Please note that there might be slight editing differences between the version of the article available here and the published edition.
TAC, the AIDS Law Project (ALP) and other civil society organisations have published a detailed report of conditions in the refugee camps and places of shelter for displaced people in the Western Cape. The report was completed on 18 July and updated on 21 July.
Download the report.
The group of eminent health and human rights experts write, "On the 3rd of July at the South African National Tuberculosis (TB) Conference in Durban, Mr. Thami Mseleku, Director General of the Department of Health, stated publicly that: “human rights are not relevant to the considerations of health policy in a developmental state”. As international health and human rights experts, we are extremely disturbed that someone holding such a central post with responsibility for health in South Africa would express such sentiment and display such a fundamental misunderstanding about human rights as a critical foundation of the health response in developing countries."