Mail and Guardian, 4 October 2002, HIV/Aids Drugs for Mpumalanga, Nawaal Deane

The Mpumalanga Department of Health announced last week that it has begun a programme to prevent mother-to-child-transmission of HIV, days after the Mail & Guardian exposed provincial inaction in complying with a court order to provide anti-retroviral drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women.

Mpumalanga has one of the highest rates of HIV prevalence in South Africa. The province has been a thorn in the side of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), which won the Constitutional Court ruling ordering all provinces to provide the therapy.

Nonkosi Khumalo, spokesperson for the TAC, said that days after the M&G published the article the Mpumalanga health department told the TAC it had begun its programme in three main hospitals.

"This week one of the hospitals, Rob Ferreira, received its first supply of nevirapine," Khumalo said.

She said Mpumalanga should be acknowledged for finally complying with the court order.

The Eastern Cape announced on September 27 that R14-million had been allocated for its mother-to-child anti-retroviral programme over the next three years. Provincial health officials have met the TAC to discuss training staff.

"The Eastern Cape needs lots of support. It is difficult to train healthcare workers because the province is so vast," Khumalo said.
"We will play a supportive role for those provinces that need assistance to roll out their programmes," she said.

Khumalo said the TAC was waiting for Limpopo, Free State and North West to respond to letters the group's lawyers had sent to provincial health departments.