WOZA (Johannesburg) - May 25, 2001
HIV/AIDS patients will put more pressure on government and the
private sector to deliver on their promises, says National
Association for People living with HIV/AIDS (Napwa) president
"Since the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers' Association dropped
its court case against government in April, nothing has
happened," Nxesi told iClinic.
He was speaking to iClinic about Napwa's first national
congress, opening near Johannesburg on Friday. Deputy President
Jacob Zuma is expected to deliver the keynote address on Friday
night. The congress is expected to end with a formal resolution
He says that patients are still in the dark as to where to get
the free nevirapine treatment promised by government in
January, and HIV/AIDS drugs are still as expensive as ever.
He says it is unfair that Minister of Health Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang is waiting for Cabinet approval of the
health department's Mother-to-Child-Transmission of HIV (MTCT)
programme before implementing it.
The Wait for Treatment is Still On
For most HIV-positive pregnant women, the wait is still on for
cabinet approval, training of healthcare workers and
distribution of the drug - donated for free by Boehringer
Ingelheim and approved for MTCT use by the Medicines Control
Council in January - to the facilities, a source close to the
minister of health told iClinic on Tuesday.
The Western Cape and a few pilot sites funded by academic
institutions are the only places now where pregnant women can
get the drug that could prevent the transmission of the
HI-virus to their unborn babies in half of the cases. An
estimated 5 000 HIV-positive babies are born every month in
Provision of the drug is seen as a gauge of the government's
commitment to fight AIDS, which already infects one in nine
South Africans and threatens to kill up to seven million within
Malawi has joined several other African countries in signing a
deal with Boehringer Ingelheim to provide free nevirapine to
HIV-infected pregnant women.
The women will begin to receive treatment from November, the
Malawian government says.
The company hasn't confirmed the deal but has signed an
agreement with several countries including Gabon and Senegal to
provide the free treatment. NAPWA To Increase Political
The main objective of Napwa's congress - attended by 500
delegates, including NGO representatives from the US and
Zimbabwe - is to review existing strategies by Napwa and others
to assist people living with HIV/AIDS, as well as to plan the
"I do not want to preempt the resolution of our Congress, but I
expect we will certainly come up with a programme to ensure
that all roleplayers in the country will begin to experience
increasing pressure to do their bit for people living with
HIV/AIDS," Nxesi told iClinic, adding that the focus on
treatment and care of patients will be especially strong.