Business Day (Johannesburg) (09.11.07) - Wednesday, September
South African National AIDS Council Deputy Chairperson Mark
Heywood and Nomonde Xundu, director of HIV/AIDS programs at
the Health Department, slammed the nation's business community
for failing to send top-level representatives to Monday's
first full meeting of SANAC since it was restructured in
SANAC is responsible for overseeing the government's new five-
year AIDS plan. At its first plenary session, the council
discussed key policy issues and reports on sectoral activities
in response to the epidemic.
"If half a dozen government ministers and two deputies can
clear their diary for a day, why can't even two CEOs?" Heywood
asked in an interview from Pretoria, where the meeting was
held. "If necessary they [business leaders] need to be shamed
to come on board." Indeed, just two people from the private
sector attended: Brad Mears, CEO of the South African Business
Coalition on HIV/AIDS, and Dr. Fazel Randera, health adviser
to the Chamber of Mines.
Xundu told SANAC the Health Department is close to finalizing
new treatment guidelines for preventing mother-to-child HIV
transmission, as well as the use of the HIV drug d4T. Around
one-fifth of patients taking d4T experienced serious side
effects, and the department is looking to transition them over
to tenofovir as soon as possible, she said.