The Department of Health has given the go-ahead for patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART) to be given three months supply of medicines instead of one month. The TAC and SECTION27 welcome this decision. It will be more convenient for patients because they will have to make fewer trips to their health facility. It will also reduce patient-load on the health system, particularly on health facility pharmacies given the shortage of pharmacists in the public health system.
TAC is saddened by the loss of our long standing comrade, Vuyani Jacobs. Vuyani joined TAC after being diagnosed with HIV while working in the Eastern Cape. He later moved to Cape Town and worked as an organizer for TAC. Vuyani continued to fight for the rights of people living with HIV at Community Media Trust, where he became the Deputy Director. Vuyani was an activist, brother, colleague, mentor and friend to many of us.
On 19 May 2010, the North Gauteng High Court handed down its judgment in this case which considered a challenge by Aurobindo – a local subsidiary of a major Indian-based generics manufacturer – to its disqualification from participating in the 2008 efavirenz tender. Efavirenz is a key ARV medicine that is used by over two-thirds of people accessing ARV treatment in the public sector.
In his judgment, Justice Prinsloo came to the conclusion “that there was a lack of procedural fairness in the process”. In other words, Aurobindo should not have been disqualified from participating. In addition, he found that Aurobindo would most likely have been awarded the efavirenz tender because its prices were significantly lower than those of its competitors.
During the 1990s and early 2000s generic competition drove down the prices of ARVs. Without these massive price reductions, nearly a million additional people would be dead or dying now in South Africa. In 2005 many generic producing countries, including India, became TRIPS compliant. This means that medicines developed since 1995 cannot as easily be produced by generic companies operating in India.
Pressure is being applied by the European Union on the Indian government to sign a bilateral trade agreement that will further stifle competition on essential medicines still under patent. The problem goes beyond ARVs. It will apply to any new medicine that is developed, whether it be for cancer, diabetes, tuberculosis or a future epidemic. Undoubtedly, this will prove to be detrimental to everyone regardless of social class and geographic location. We should all be concerned.
Ubhejane is marketed by a charlatan named Zeblon Gwala as a cure for AIDS. On 22 June 2010 it was incorrectly reported in Business Report that Ubhejane was registered with the Medicines Control Council (MCC). Ubhejane has not been registered as a medicine in South Africa. There is no evidence that it is of any benefit to people with HIV.
The BEMF’s third meeting, held on 21 May 2010, brought together over 30 people from 10 organisations. The aim was to understand what civil society can do to ensure that the budgeting process –at the national and provincial levels– results in the appropriate allocation and use of financial resources to address health needs. The meeting discussed where national and provincial government departments are encountering implementation inefficiencies and where and how the BEMF can intervene to help improve the budgeting process.
On 17 June 2010, about 2,000 people representing 16 organisations marched to the United States (US) consulate in Sandton, Johannesburg, to demand that the US leads the way in funding universal access to antiretroviral treatment.
We call on you to join our march. AIDS is not over. Be seen. Be heard by the world while they are watching the World Cup played in our country.
The future of the region and the health of the continent hangs in the balance. Ke nako!
Attached find details of the march as well as the press conference to be held on Tuesday, June 15th.
AIDS Organisations have reiterated their concerns relating to blockages to condom access and health promotion with only days left before the World Cup starts.
'We wish for the success of the World Cup. But we also wish for an HIV free generation and that FIFA would join hands with local AIDS organisations to exploit the opportunity that the World Cup presents to greatly strengthen and deepen our response to HIV/AIDS. It is not yet too late. But it soon will be.'
The effect of a donor retreat on funding the HIV/Aids fight is like having the referee blow his whistle to stop the World Cup final match halfway through. It would cause an outrage, with nations and people up in arms over the match being stopped at half-time. But the sad fact is when donors and the rich nations start turning the HIV funding tap off — an action that will result in the premature and preventable death of millions of people needing immediate treatment for HIV/Aids — it happens with little or no reaction or outrage. This is not acceptable.