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
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.
TAC Electronic Newsletter
20 August 2003
Queries: or +27 (0) 21 788 3507
Fax: +27 (0) 21 788 3726
New NEC Elected at the Second TAC National CongressThe Treatment Action Campaign elected a new National Executive Committee at the Second TAC National Congress. The new committee is:
A full report of the Congress, including the resolutions, can be downloaded from:
- Zackie Achmat, Chairperson (Tel: 021 788 3507)
- Sipho Mthathi, Deputy-Chairperson (Tel: 072 194 1601, 021 788 3507; email: )
- Mandla Majola, Secretary (Tel: 072 424 7181, 021 788 3507; email: )
- Mark Heywood, Treasurer (Tel: 011 717 8600; email: )
- Edna Bokaba, Health Care Workers Representative (Tel: 082 429 2629)
- Lydia Cairncross, Health Care Workers Representative (Tel: 082 786 7014; email: )
- Joyce Pekane, Labour Representative (Tel: 011 339 4911; email: )
- Gary Thompson, Faith Based Organisations Representative (Tel: 072 415 7758; email: )
- Buyi Mdhlovu, Children's Sector Representative (Tel: 072 236 2750; email: )
- Arthur Jokweni, Youth Sector Representative (Tel: 031 304 3673; email: )
- Gosiame Choabi, TAC Mpumalanga Province Representative (Tel: 083 722 4291; email: )
- Gugu Mpngose, TAC Kwazulu-Natal Province Representative (Tel: 072 679 9793)
- Sindiswa Godwana, TAC Eastern Cape Province Representative (Tel: 083 691 4411)
- Luyanda Ngonyama (co-opted to assist with faith based sector) (Tel: 083 484 1097; email: )
[END OF NEW NEC - BACK TO CONTENTS]
TAC Offers Assistance to National and Provincial Departments of HealthThe TAC has offered assistance to the national and provincial departments of health with the development and implementation of the operational plan for the rollout of antiretroviral therapy. Below is the text of the letter sent to the Director-General of Health and Chief Director of HIV/AIDS and TB. Similar letters have been sent to the Minister of Health, the Deputy-President, all MECs for Health and heads of provincial departments of health. A similar letter will be sent to Dr. Anthony Mbewu, head of research at the MRC, who has been selected by the Department of Health to head a team to develop the operational plan.
Dr. Ayanda Ntsaluba (Director-General of Health)
Dr. Nono Simelela (Chief Director HIV/AIDS and TB Cluster)
Department of Health
Private Bag X828
By Registered Mail and Fax: 012 326 4395
12 August 2003
Dear Dr. Ntsaluba and Dr. Simelela
OFFER OF ASSISTANCE WITH THE DEVELOPMENT AND IMPLEMENTATION OF OPERATIONAL PLAN
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) warmly welcomes the Cabinet Statement of Friday, 8 August. Government's intention to develop an operational antiretroviral rollout plan gives hundreds of thousands of people with HIV/AIDS real hope that their health can be restored and that they can live full productive lives.
We have carefully studied the Summary Report of the Joint Health and Treasury Task Team and agree with most of its findings and recommendations. We also believe that the introduction of appropriate anti-retroviral treatment for people with AIDS, will strengthen other components and objectives of the government-led national HIV/AIDS plan.
The TAC has 7,000 active volunteers in rural and urban communities in most Provinces. We have strong linkages with trade unions, faith-based organizations, the health professions and NGOs/CBOs. Internationally many organizations have contacted us expressing a desire to provide practical assistance. To this end the TAC offers its full resources to ensuring that this programme is a success.
Therefore we would like to request to meet with the Department of Health at the soonest opportunity. Please confirm a date, time and venue for this meeting to take place.
With regard to the development of an operational plan, the TAC can offer the following:
With regard to the implementation of the rollout, the TAC would be happy to assist with the following:
- Operational experience with the rollout of antiretroviral therapy in resource poor areas gained from our work in Khayelitsha and Lusikisiki;
- Expertise based on our costing and demographic analysis of a treatment and prevention plan based on our work with the University of Cape Town Economics and Actuarial Science Departments;
- Legal expertise on what will constitute a reasonable plan;
- Pressure on pharmaceutical companies, both generic and brand-name manufacturers, to reduce their medicine prices;
- Pressure on business to develop partnerships with government with the rollout of treatment, thereby relieving some of the financial and logistical burden from the Department of Health;
- Pressure on medical schemes to improve their coverage of treatment benefits so as to reduce the burden of treatment on the Department of Health;
- Pressure on international institutions and donors to contribute skills and finance to the success of the rollout.
- Treatment education in clinics and hospitals for doctors, nurses, counselors and support groups;
- Community mobilisation on issues ranging from prevention through to treatment, especially the benefits of taking up voluntary counseling and testing;
- National, local and provincial campaigns to break down the stigma around HIV;
- Assisting with ensuring that clinics and hospitals are stocked with appropriate medicines, equipment and diagnostics;
- Providing volunteers to assist overburdened health workers with chores that will relieve their workload;
- Assisting with the training and development of new counselors;
- Helping develop infrastructure in clinics and hospitals which do not yet have the appropriate infrastructure for running antiretroviral programmes.
We would also like to hear from you, your ideas about areas where TAC could provide assistance.
We assure you these are not hollow promises. We have both the capacity and the determination to work with you to make prevention and treatment programmes a success
The TAC has for years campaigned for the development of a treatment and prevention plan. There is now a heavy burden of duty upon us to ensure the success of such a plan. We are ready to meet this challenge and look forward to a productive relationship with the Department of Health. While we have had difficulties in the past and, no doubt, there will be areas of disagreement in the future, we now consider the major points of conflict between us to be resolved. It is for the benefit of a successful HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention plan that will save millions of lives that we now must work productively together.
TAC National Secretary
[END OF LETTER OFFERING ASSISTANCE - BACK TO CONTENTS]
Letter to the MCC by Doctors Involved in the Treatment of People with HIV/AIDS Regarding the Unacceptably Slow Registration of 600mg Efavirenz Pills
Mrs. Precious Matsoso
Registrar of Medicines
Medicines Control Council
By fax: 012 323 4474
Dear Mrs. Matsoso
REGISTRATION OF 600MG EFAVIRENZ
This letter comes to you after a number of enquiries to the Medicines Control Council (MCC) from health care personnel with a legitimate interest regarding the registration status of the 600mg pill of efavirenz. The responses received from the MCC have been uninformative to date.
Currently the 200mg efavirenz pill is registered for use in South Africa by the MCC. It is frequently used in first-line highly active antiretroviral regimens (HAART) for people with HIV/AIDS. Antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS allows them to live longer, healthier and more productive lives. Efavirenz could be considered an essential medicine albeit that, as with other antiretroviral medicines, it does not yet appear on the South African Essential Drugs List.
At present, patients taking efavirenz have to take three 200mg pills a day. However, a 600mg efavirenz pill has been registered with the FDA and has been in use in Europe and the USA for some time. This 600mg pill has two important advantages over the 200mg version:
The distributor of the 600mg pill sells it at a significantly cheaper price than three 200mg pills
The number of pills per day that patients would need to take would be reduced. This has been shown to improve adherence to treatment, which is linked to significantly improved patient outcomes.
We are aware that a 600mg version of efavirenz was submitted to the Medicines Control Council to be considered for registration some time ago. We cannot understand why the registration process for another formulation of an already registered medication, submitted by the same manufacturer, should take so long. While we fully comprehend the need for the MCC to be vigilant in ensuring the safety and efficacy of medicines before registering them, this should not be used as an excuse for tardiness. The obligation for the MCC to ensure the speedy registration of essential medicines is as critical as its duty to prevent the distribution of unsafe or ineffective medicines.
There is a legitimate public interest in this matter, which must override any issues of confidentiality around the registration process. We therefore call for you either to register the 600mg version of efavirenz or provide scientific reasons to the public why you are unable to register it at present.
Signed by concerned medical and nursing staff
Doctors Catherine Orrell, Karen Cohen, Kwezi Matoti, Linda-Gail Bekker, Eve Subotsky, Ruth Corncik, Jennifer Pitt, Francoise Louis; Sisters Pat Meyer, Mary Sihlangu, Precious Nxara.
[END OF OPEN LETTER TO MCC - BACK TO CONTENTS]
Letter to Minister of Health by Rural Doctors Association of South Africa (RuDASA) Appealing for Political Will and Resources for Managing HIV in the Public Sector
Dr M Tshabalala-Msimang
Minister of Health
Department of Health
Private Bag X828
cc Deputy Minister R Schoeman, Dr A Ntsaluba, Dr N Simelela, Dr Kgosi Letlape, TAC
Re: RuDASA Conference Declaration
RuDASA applauds the decision by Cabinet to go ahead with a comprehensive antiretroviral treatment plan. We are however aware that there are many other aspects of the fight against HIV that need attention, especially in the rural areas of our country.
Please find attached a letter signed by the delegates at the 7th annual RuDASA conference, on Friday 8 August 2003.
We would like to emphasize that we want to work constructively with the Department of Health.
Yours in serving the health needs of the nation
Dr Elma de Vries
To: the Honorable Minister of Health, Dr Tshabalala - Msimang
We, the undersigned health care workers attending the annual RuDASA conference (Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa), would like to express our extreme frustration at the circumstances under which we have to provide care to HIV+ people. We are only too aware of the urgency of the situation, being at the coalface of the pandemic and having to care for large numbers of very ill and dying patients. We believe that HIV infection can be transformed into a chronic, treatable illness, with a commitment by all stakeholders.
We believe the following are essential requirements to provide the citizens of South Africa with an acceptable standard of care:
1. A clear demonstration of political will and vision at the highest level of government, including the Dept of Health.
2. Provincial support for HIV care, in the form of posts, appropriate budget and resource allocations. For example in Mpumalanga province there is no HIV programme director, which affects the roll out of programmes such as PMTCT.
3. Prevention Programmes, namely:
- Community education programmes regarding risk-reducing behaviour
- VCT available at all clinics, including rural clinics
- Post exposure prophylaxis for occupational exposure and sexual assault
- Commitment to the ongoing rollout of the PMTCT programme in all the provinces. We would like to express our dismay at the possible de-registration of NVP
- Improve condom distribution programmes including female condoms
4. An appropriate Care Package / Treatment Programme
- Availability of adequate medication to treat Opportunistic Infections at all levels, including rural clinics
- National Treatment Guidelines for the use of ARVs, similar to the National TB and STI guidelines, to be drawn up by a panel of experts and to be widely circulated.
- Training programmes to be implemented for all categories of staff, to prepare them for the use of ARVs.
- Pilot sites to be identified and capacitated with the necessary infrastructure, including lab facilities for the monitoring of ARV use.
- Provision of generic ARV drugs, starting at the pilot sites (including in rural areas) and with time to be rolled out to other sites as they meet predetermined criteria to provide ARVs.
5. The provision of ARVs in the public sector will necessitate attention to many of the current infrastructural problems compromising the health care system.
As RuDASA we undertake to support pilot sites and the training of health workers and would like to commit ourselves to engage and work with stakeholders at district, provincial and national level.
As health care workers we are all committed to providing an excellent standard of care to the communities we serve. We urge you to show courage and leadership in this crucial struggle affecting our country.
[END OF LETTER BY RuDASA TO MINISTER OF HEALTH - BACK TO CONTENTS]
Judgment by Press Ombudsman in Complaint Against The Sowetan Newspaper
On 24 April, the Sowetan published an article by ANC Youth League spokesperson, Khulekani Ntshangase that contained false, defamatory allegations against TAC. Subsequently, Hassan Lorgat lodged a complaint with the Press Ombudsman of South Africa. The original ANC Youth League article and TAC's response to it were published on 22 April and 5 May respectively in the TAC electronic newsletter. They are available in the Newsletters section of the TAC website (tac.org.za). Here is the Press Ombudsman's ruling.
PRESS OMBUDSMAN OF SOUTH AFRICA
Mr Hassan Lorgat - Mr Zackie Achmat - Mr Mark Heywood
Judgement in the complaint by Mr Hassan Lorgat, with whom are associated
Messrs Zackie Achmat and Mr Mark Heywood of the TAC, against Sowetan
1 The complaint is against an article published in Sowetan on April
22, 2003, headed "PAGAD and TAC two sides of the same coin".
It reported statements by Khulekani Ntashangase, ANC Youth League spokesperson, critical of the TAC as, among other things, paid marketing agents for toxic AIDS drugs from America.
There was no attempt to get comment before publication from the TAC, as required by para 1.5 of the press code.
After publication The TAC sent a letter to the editor rejecting the criticisms.
2. Sowetan, in reply to the complaint, said it had published a letter in reply from Mr Heywood, national secretary of the TAC, on May 16 and an
article by Mr Achmat.
This letter, as I read it, is in the main a reply to an editorial article published in Sowetan on April 9, almost two weeks before
the article of April 22.
Towards the end of the letter there is one paragraph which reads:
"Are the 'suggestions' (that TAC's real motive is to form a new political party) coming from the same people who have previously suggested
in the pages of this newspaper that the TAC is' poisoning' the people, that the TAC is an 'ultra-left' organisation in the pay of pharmaceutical
companies, that the TAC and the People against gansterism and drugs(PAGAD) are two sides of the same coin? If so, you should say so."
That is clearly a reference to Ntshangase's criticisms.
The article by Mr Achmat was published on April 30 on the same page and with equal prominence and at least equal length as Mr
Ntashangase's article. The letter and the article constitute sufficient right of reply for the TAC.
The Sowetan contravened paragraph 1.5 of the press code by failing to get
comment from the TAC before publication of the seriously critical comments
by ANC Youth League spokesperson Khulekani Ntshangase. A meaningful right
of reply was subsequently given to the TAC..
The debate over prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS has been heated and
newspapers are fully justified in giving space to it provided they stay
within the guidelines of the Press Code.
E H LININGTON
PRESS OMBUDSMAN OF South Africa
13 August 2003
[END OF JUDGMENT BY PRESS OMBUDSMAN - BACK TO CONTENTS]
[END OF NEWSLETTER]