Business Day, 07 October 2002, State misses its chance again, TAC
The Treatment Action Campaign, the lobby pushing for the rights of HIV/AIDS victims, said yesterday that the meeting at the weekend of government's advisory and advocacy panel on the epidemic amounted to another missed opportunity to deal with urgent issues.
In its statement the SA National AIDS Council, Sanac, gave no signal of national government's intentions to allow disbursement to KwaZulu-Natal of grant funding from the Global Fund. The Treatment Action Campaign accused the health minister of blocking the grant because it would expand access to antiretroviral treatment in the public sector.
Sanac, which brings together government ministers and nongovernmental organisations to discuss HIV/AIDS policy, said in a statement issued after its meeting in Cape Town on Saturday that it intended to broaden representation and meet more frequently.
Nathan Geffen, national manager of the Treatment Action Campaign, said the move to give greater influence to nongovernmental organisations in making appointments to the body, and for the full council to meet more frequently were welcome moves. "But the statement does not tackle serious issues like treatment," he said. "They still have no policy on treatment and, as far as we can ascertain, no intentions of implementing treatment programmes.
"All that is required for them to get money is for the minister of health to consent to the grant. All that she has to say is that this is a legitimate process."
The council could at least have given support to the treatment plan being negotiated between business, labour and the government in the National Development and Labour Council, he said.
Representatives from the Treatment Action Campaign are on two of the council's technical committees, but not on the main body.