Civil rights groups and communities have expressed their concern about the failure of the Department of Health to release the National Aids Vaccine Strategic Plan (NAVSP) for 2013-2017.
At a recent community roundtable on Aids Vaccine Research and Development held at OR Tambo International Airport, stakeholders and community members expressed their unhappiness about the embargo on the release of the NAVSP and vowed to do everything they can to have it released earlier.
The Department of Health requested the South African Aids Vaccine Initiative (SAAVI) to develop the NAVSP in 2012, combining the expertiese from researchers all over the world, and communities and Community Advisory Groups in South Africa. However, since its development the document has been embargoed for public scrutiny without reasons.
The round table was held to strengthen advocacy around the development of an Aids Vaccine in the country, however the meeting was dominated by a call for the release of NAVSP.
During the round table, various stakeholders, some whom were involved in the NAVSP development, indicated their dissatisfaction with the embargo on the document as they believe it contains clear objectives on community involvement in AIDS vaccine research that is happening in the country.
Researchers from various organisation, including the Perinatual HIV Research Unit, the Aurum Institute for Health Research and the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation agreed that the embargo creates suspicion about their activities to reduce HIV infections through vaccines and ARVs prevention research.
"If we ask the government to release it and they deny, we'll have to force them through demonstrations," said one of the round table participants.
Before dispersing the group agreed to form an advocacy group to put pressure on the Department of Health to release the document. - OurHealth/Health-e News Service
Tshilidzi Tuwani is an OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from Soshanguve in the Tshwane health district in Gauteng.