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This is an archive of the Treatment Action Campaign's public documents from
December 1998 until October 2008. I created this website because the TAC's
website appears unmaintained and people were concerned that it
was becoming increasingly hard to find important documents.
The menu items have been slightly edited and a new stylesheet applied to the site. But none of the documents have been edited, not even for minor errors. The text appears on this site as obtained from the Internet Archive.
The period covered by the archive encompassed the campaign for HIV medicines, the civil disobedience campaigns, the Competition Commission complaints, the 2008 xenophobic violence and the PMTCT, Khayelitsha health workers and Matthias Rath court cases.
26 September, 2006 - 00:00 — moderator
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Now, how do we prevent HIV infections, save lives and build a decent health system all?
TAC Secretariat Statement - 29 September 2006
Cabinet intervenes to lead HIV/AIDS effort
[END OF STATEMENT ON IRREVERSIBLE BLOW TO DENIALISM]
A group of scientists, activists, regulators, lawyers, doctors and academics met at the University of Cape Town's Centre for African Studies Gallery on 26 September 2006.
The meeting examined the abundance of unsubstantiated and false claims being made about medicines across South Africa. These unproven remedies, for AIDS, cancer, obesity, heart disease and many other ailments, are currently being actively marketed and sold to vulnerable people who are given false information about their therapeutic benefits. At best these deceptive marketing practices create false hope and waste money. At worst they exploit people and encourage poor treatment decisions which result in avoidable illness and death.
Several presentations were made:
Formation of informal coalition against fraudulent claims about medicines
A group of delegates at the meeting has agreed to form an informal coalition against fraudulent claims about medicines.
The coalition noted that the Minister of Health has a duty to ensure that the Medicines Act is enforced. This includes stopping the plethora of false claims about medicines and prosecuting those who fail to do so. This duty of the minister is critical to public health. However, the Minister is failing in these duties and is not acting in the public interest. Instead she has created an environment in which false marketing thrives.
The coalition noted that many public sector patients receive poor service. We also examined inadequacies in the social grant system and how these create the conditions for unethical medicine marketeers to take advantage of vulnerable people.
The coalition also noted the difficult circumstances under which health workers operate, especially due to the increasing burden of HIV. Lack of training and poor conditions of service create perverse incentives for some health workers to market unproven medicines. All health workers should be informed about the well-established science of HIV/AIDS as well as that of other high incidence diseases such as TB, cancer, heart disease and diabetes
The coalition agreed on the following principles:
We undertake to:
The coalition's first task will be to compile a detailed complaint against the distributors of Ubhejane, a medicine being touted as a cure for AIDS by truck driver Zeblon Gwala (the manufacturer of this product) and Herbert Vilakazi (a sociologist who advises the Kwazulu-Natal government). This product is being sold as an alternative to antiretrovirals to poor people with AIDS for R340 per month.
For queries related to the coalition, please contact:
Ms. Nokhwezi Hoboyi (TAC): 021 788 3507
Prof. Nicoli Nattrass (UCT): 021 650 3567
Dr. John Gosling: 072 040 9730
Ms. Fatima Hassan (ALP): 083 279 9962
[END OF COALITION STATEMENT]
TB, MDR-TB and XDR TB - an emergency for the country and the working class
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) This Congress notes with urgency and alarm that the crisis of tuberculosis in South Africa has become an explosive epidemic.
In 1997, Statistics South Africa received 22,071 death certificates with tuberculosis stated as the cause of death. The number of recorded TB deaths had more than tripled by 2004 to 77,406 people. This is a deep tragedy for all our communities.
TB and HIV/AIDS
TB is the leading cause of death among HIV-positive people, accounting for about 25% of AIDS deaths worldwide. In August 2005, African governments and the WHO, meeting in Maputo, Mozambique, declared the TB epidemic in Africa to be a regional emergency. A recent study in Cape Town found that between 1996 and 2004 a rise in the HIV prevalence from 6-22% was associated with a 2.5 fold increase in TB notification rates in a township.
The risk of developing active TB in an HIV-negative individual is 10% over the course of their lifetime. This risk increases 5 -10 times to 7-8% per year in HIV-positive people. This agrees with other data stating that incidence of TB in AIDS patients is 500 times that of the general population, and TB likely accounts for nearly 40% of AIDS deaths in the African region.
TB, HIV and Inequality
Not only does South Africa have one of the largest numbers of people living with HIV in the world, it has one of the highest incidence rates for TB worldwide (558 per 100,000). The burden is not evenly spread and regional aggregate figures disguise gross inequalities in health care access and disease. For example, according to Health Systems Trust, the Western Cape had a TB incidence of 932 notifications per 100,000 people in 2003, just short of the WHO definition of a health emergency. However, 2004 data from a township outside Cape Town show notification rates of 1468 cases per 100,000 with rates reaching 4,381 per 100,000 in HIV positive people. It is clear that certain communities are particularly vulnerable and the provision of services should reflect this.
Tuberculosis can be prevented, treated and cured. Sadly, TB is very difficult to diagnose in people living with HIV/AIDS. Most TB disease in people living with HIV is never diagnosed or diagnosed too late. The TB diagnostics used in South Africa and most poor countries are 110 years old. All TB drugs used in South Africa and poor countries are more than 40 years old. Drug companies and governments have failed to invest in new diagnostics and treatment for TB because it is a disease that occurs in poor countries and poor communities.
MDR-TB and XDR-TB
"The cost of treating a new TB case is R300, a retreatment case is R589, and [the cost of treating] MDR TB is R46 000!" [Thibela TB Training Manual: Tuberculosis, Aurum Institute for Health Research 2006; www.aurumhealth.org.]
Today, we face a tragedy with multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extreme (XDR-TB). MDR-TB is a form of TB resistant to two of the most important first line TB drugs, isoniazid (INH) and rifampicin (RIF). Treating MDR- TB is twenty times more expensive than new drug-sensitive TB. Rates of MDR-TB are rising in places where TB control programs are failing to ensure that people with TB disease are cured.
Much more serious is extensive or extreme drug resistant TB (XDR-TB). According to the South African Medical Research Council (MRC), "XDR-TB is defined as resistance to the two most potent anti-TB drugs, isoniazid and rifampin, together with resistance to at least three of six classes of reserve second-line drugs." [â€˜Seven point emergency action plan to combat XDR-TB issued by global health agencies', MRC, Johannesburg, 7 September 2006.] Extreme drug resistant TB is resistant to INH and RIF and also to at least three second-line drugs.
At Tugela Ferry, KwaZulu-Natal in a study between January 2005 and March 2006, sputum from 1540 patients revealed 536 (35%) culture positive for M. TB. Of these, 221 (41%) had MDR TB, and 53 (10 %) had (XDR TB). 52 of 53 (98%) XDR TB patients have died. The majority of deaths occurred within 25 days of diagnosis. The longest survival was 136 days. 44 of the 53 cases had HIV testing results available; of these, all (44/44, 100%) were HIV positive, and one-third of them had received anti-retroviral therapy.
Everyone is at risk for XDR-TB but the most vulnerable people include
Failures of Health System
MDR-TB and XDR-TB is the direct result of failures of prevention, diagnosis and treatment of TB and HIV in the health system.
TB drug supply interruptions especially in poor provinces and places such as prisons lead to drug resistance. Treating TB in people living with HIV too late or not at all, leads to recurrent infections with TB.
All people with TB must receive education on adherence. South Africa and our continent has achieved more than 80% adherence for people taking antiretroviral therapy over three years. Yet, people fail to complete TB treatment because DOTS is not used to educate people but to "police" patients. This does not respect the autonomy and dignity of people.
The Treatment Action Campaign resolves that:
[END OF XDR TB RESOLUTIONS]
The SABC has misrepresented a TAC statement on the ANC's move to restructure the Cape Town City Council. The SABC described TAC as supporting the Democratic Alliance. This is despite TAC taking the same position as COSATU and the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union on this matter.
The TAC does not support or endorse any political party but the majority of our members are ANC supporters. The statement we released is copied below. It is clear; implying from it that TAC supports the DA is poor journalism.
ANC Western Cape undermines democracy, the rule of law and the Constitution
TAC joins the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) to say campaign fairly against DA-led council
24 September 2006
Last week, Mr Richard Dyanti provincial minister for local government acted on orders from the ANC Western Cape to begin a process that will alter the structure of the City of Cape Town Metropolitan Council. It is an attempt to destroy the Democratic Alliance-led majority council. This move is wrong and regrettable both in substance and form.
First, as SACTWU, the largest Cosatu affiliate in our province pointed out, this action was undertaken without any consultation with the Tripartite Alliance and absolutely no democratic consultation with all the communities of Cape Town. This lack of community participation will destroy the already tarnished credibility of the ANC in the Western Cape among all people. And, it will lead to further racial polarisation.
In substance, the ANC Western Cape's attempt at a power-grab undermines the Constitution, the rule of law and the ANC's commitment to democracy and majority rule.
The majority of Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) members are ANC voters, supporters and members. It causes us deep discomfort and anguish to witness an undermining of the peoples' will because we lost an election.
Sadly, it appears that this decision was also influenced the Mayor Helen Zille's decision to respond positively to a request from TAC to address the Council. A request denied by our national parliament and stalled on by our provincial legislature.
ANC supporters in TAC call on the ANC councillors, provincial government and leaders to oppose this move.
ANC-TAC supporters will campaign for a progressive ANC Cape Town City government committed to the poor and working class on a non-racial and non-sexist platform. The ANC must commit to ant-corruption, anti-HIV denialist and a human right platform in this city to unite all our people.
None of us will be party to a power-grab disguised as a lawful measure. This will destroy democracy and the ANC. TAC will consult all members and join with Cosatu and broader civil society to defend democracy.
[END OF STATEMENT ON CITY COUNCIL]
The TAC supports full equality for gay and lesbian people including the right to marry. The right of same-sex couples to marry is guaranteed in the Constitution and has been ruled upon by the Constitutional Court.
Public hearings on the Civil Union Bill will start on 9 October 2006 in Sea Point, Cape Town. TAC will support a picket organised by Triangle Project at this event. We will release a detailed statement on this issue next week.
[END OF STATEMENT ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE]
In South Africa, 800 lives are lost to AIDS and 1000 new HIV infections occur on a daily basis. This is despite a government promise to provide comprehensive AIDS treatment and prevent new infections. The destruction and social dislocation resulting from this is tragic and unacceptable for a country which has the resources to do better. Continued failure to acknowledge HIV and AIDS as a crisis and to take decisive action has forced the TAC to step up pressure for the government to respond properly to end this crisis.
800 deaths a day should be intolerable in any society and we will not tolerate it. This is why we have called on the President to convene a national crisis meeting on AIDS and for the firing of the Minister of Health for failing in her duties. We believe that millions of people depend upon our success with these demands and we will not end this campaign until there is a real and lasting breakthrough. We consider this campaign necessary because continuing with the current approach to AIDS, which is being exacerbated by political denial, would be a dereliction of all our duty to save lives. Your contribution will save lives!
To sustain this campaign, we are planning further demonstrations, meetings with key allies, and a campaign of advertisements in national media setting out the facts about HIV death in our country as well as what we feel needs to be done to avert this crisis.
If you support this campaign we appeal to you to help us by donating to TAC's Campaign Fund. If you are employed donate via our website Donate Now and encourage your friends, family and comrades to do the same. Every donation will be recorded and audited. TAC's audited financial statements for previous years are publicly available. To find out more about the work of TAC and how you could become more involved, please visit our website tac.org.za or contact our National Office on +2721 788 3507.
For Financial Contributions speak to +2731 304 3673 and +2711 339 8421.
Sipho Mthathi (General Secretary)
Zackie Achmat (Chairperson)
[END OF APPEAL]