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
4 August 2005
- TAC notes the publication of the Human Resources Plan on Wednesday 3 August. We will release a detailed analysis of it once we have studied it.
- TAC and the ALP will release a detailed analysis of the draft Health Charter in the next two weeks.
- Every two years TAC holds a national congress where its National Executive Committee is elected and TAC's broad programme until the next congress is established. TAC is currently holding its provincial congresses which will culminate in our 3rd national congress in Cape Town from 23 to 25 September. Congresses delegates are elected by TAC branches and districts. The theme for the congresses is:
Building women and people with HIV/AIDS leadership for a People's Health Service
Dates for provincial congresses are as follows:
- Eastern Cape 22–23 July
- Mpumalanga 6–7 Aug
- Gauteng 12-13 Aug
- Limpopo 20–21 Aug
- Western Cape 26 - 27 Aug
- Kwa-Zulu Natal 26-27 Aug
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Access to treatment breakthrough in Queenstown
- Four new antiretroviral sites
- Police apologise and an internal investigation is taking place. TAC insists that an investigation must also be carried out by the Independent Complaints Directorate and this must be done separately to the internal police investigation. As far as we are aware this is what is happening and for now we remain satisfied that progress is being made.
(This is an abbreviated report. A detailed report is available here
on the TAC website.)
On 26 July 2005, TAC held a demonstration at Frontier Hospital in Queenstown. This followed months of efforts to increase access to treatment in Queenstown and excessive use of force by police at a TAC march on 12 July.
At the 26 July event and meetings surrounding this event, TAC met with officials from the Eastern Cape Department of Health and Frontier Hospital, as well as the police. We are pleased to report that there has been progress.
- Four hospitals have been accredited for antiretroviral treatment in the Chris Hani District (which contains Queenstown). These are Glen Grey, Cala, All Saints and Cradock.
- The provincial officals explained that Frontier Hospital's limited uptake of patients was due to a lack of staff. TAC understands this problem and believes it must be solved by implementing a comprehensive human resources plan, as promised by the National Department of Health.
- TAC treatment literacy practitioners will be able to continue providing information to patients about HIV in the hospital.
- A community forum will be established at Frontier Hospital and TAC will have representation on this forum.
- Addressing the demonstration, Police officer Pam McKenzie apologised to TAC for the events of 12 July. The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD), South Africa's police oversight institution, is investigating the incidents of that day. TAC has also received a letter from the National Commissioner of the South African Police Service (SAPS) that they too are investigating the incidents of 12 July. This is fine and we welcome such an investigation, but TAC also insists that the ICD investigation must be carried out separately from an internal police one.
[END OF QUEENSTOWN STORY - BACK TO CONTENTS
Remembering Ronald Louw
A memorial service for Ronald Louw, anti-Apartheid and gay rights activist, who died of AIDS at age 47 on 26 June 2005, will be held on Friday. (For more on Louw's life, see this obituary
by Zackie Achmat.)
A campaign to encourage people to get tested and treated will be launched at the memorial service.
Date: Friday, 5 August 2005
Time: (15h00 for) 15h30-17h30
Venue: Shepstone 1 Lecture Theatre, Howard College Campus, University of KwaZulu-Natal
[END OF NOTE ON RONALD LOUW MEMORIAL - BACK TO CONTENTS
Generous response to Pretty's story
In our last newsletter we told the story of seven-year-old Pretty's struggle for access to antiretroviral treatment. We received a number of generous requests to sponsor Pretty's treatment, for which we are grateful. The first of these offers was taken up and treatment for Pretty is therefore being organised at the moment.
[END OF RESPONSE TO PRETTY'S STORY - BACK TO CONTENTS
ALP/TAC submission to Parliament on amendments to the Patent Act
A draft bill amending the South African Patents Act has been tabled in Parliament. Jonathan Berger of the AIDS Law Project and acting on behalf of TAC presented a submission to Parliament on the proposed amendments on 2 August 2005.
The full submission is available here
on the TAC website.
Summary of Submissions
We support the Bill in general and in principle. However, we submit that if it is to play its rightful role in striking a balance between incentives for innovation and access to the benefits of scientific developments, it needs to be strengthened by:
- Requiring the applicant for a patent to submit proof of his or her title or authority to make use of the identified indigenous biological resource, genetic resource, traditional knowledge and/or traditional use. In our view, the mandatory submission of proof is preferable to the current formulation in the Bill that simply empowers the registrar to request such proof. Without the obligation on the applicant to submit proof, a patent could be granted in the absence of title or authority, amounting to classic biopiracy.
- Introducing a system of pre-grant opposition by interested parties, which is especially relevant in a country that does require (and may not have the capacity to conduct) full patent examinations.
- Ensuring that applicants for patents take all reasonable steps to ensure that they have title or authority to engage in bioprospecting, being research and development (“R&D”) based on indigenous biological resource, genetic resource, traditional knowledge and/or traditional use. The Bill merely proposes that a patent can be revoked if the declaration regarding bioprospecting is materially false and the applicant had knowledge of the falseness. In our view, this should be expanded to include cases where the applicant ought reasonably to have known that the declaration was materially false and would have known had he or she taken reasonable steps.
- Expanding the grounds of patent revocation to include revocation on the basis of a lack of valid legal title or authority.
Necessity of further amendments to the Patents Act
We would like to draw to the Portfolio Committee’s attention that South Africa requires a comprehensive review of its patent legislation to enable the development of an appropriate patent regime within the bounds of both what is permitted in terms of international trade law and what is required by international human rights law and the Constitution. In many respects, the level of protection afforded to patentees in the Patents Act remains inappropriate for a country with our level of development, burden of disease and industrial strategy regarding the domestic generic pharmaceutical industry.
In our view, much of this can be corrected by amendments to the Patents Act that fully incorporate the public health safeguards and flexibilities permitted by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), as clarified in the Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health (the Doha Declaration)1 and complemented by the WTO decision on Implementation of paragraph 6 of the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and public health (the Paragraph 6 decision).2
For South Africa to be able to make full use of the regulatory options permissible under international law, it needs – at minimum – to enact the following legislative amendments:
- Amend section 4 of the Patents Act to expand the category of state officials who may use an invention for public purposes (issue compulsory licences) and, to deal with those circumstances where there is an absence of agreement between the relevant state official and the patentee regarding the terms and conditions of such use, to put in place a default position in this regard;
- Insert a new section 4A into the Patents Act to permit the Minister of Health, the Minister of Trade and Industry or the member of the executive council responsible for health in a province, to issue compulsory licences to deal specifically with a health emergency;
- Amend section 25 of the Patents Act to limit the granting of patents in respect of new uses and new forms of known substances;
- Amend section 56 of the Patents Act, which allows private persons (including companies) to apply for compulsory licences, so that standing to apply for a compulsory licence is broadened, processes are streamlined and patent protection reduced so as only to provide that which is required by TRIPs and no more. As it currently reads, section 56 provides TRIPs-plus protections;
- Insert a new section 56A into the Patents Act to permit private persons (including companies) to apply for compulsory licences to deal with a public health emergency or situation of extreme urgency;
- Insert a new section 56B into the Patents Act to permit the issuing of compulsory licences for the local production of generic pharmaceutical products solely for export to countries with limited or no pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, as permitted by the WTO’s Paragraph 6 decision;
- Amend section 61 of the Patents Act to provide for the revocation of a patent when the grant of a licence in terms of section 4, 4A, 56 or 56A has not been sufficient to prevent abuse resulting from the exercise of the exclusive rights conferred by the patent, provided that at least two years have expired since the grant of such licence; and
- Insert various new definitions into the Patents Act to give proper effect to the additions and amendments proposed above.
Not only is this a desirable course of action to take, but in our view, it is also constitutionally mandated.
[END OF PATENT ACT SUBMISSION - BACK TO CONTENTS
Nurses needs Treatment Literacy
By Sydney Masinga
It is of a serious concern that a lot of nurses including student nurses have no idea what HIV/AIDS treatment is. On 10-11 May 2005, we went to Mmateme Multi Skills Development Agency to do treatment literacy training. The agency is situated in a rural area called Matibidi in the far north of Mpumalanga. It is a private nursing college that has about 28 students so far. It was started in August 2004 by a retired nursing sister named Alvina Makhubedu. She had the courage to admit to us that nurses do not have the necessary knowledge when it comes to HIV treatment, so she needs TAC to help with the training.
We went there thinking that it would be easier because we would be training nurses, but we were wrong.
The college is registered with SETA and the students are doing their practical work at Volksrust Hospital which is far away from the college. Miss Alvina has been applying for funding from the government but she has not received anything. Their venue is small and there is a lack of equipment. The students are paying R275.00 per month tuition fee and R100.00 for accommodation. Two of the first year students are studying free because they are coming from a poor family that cannot afford to pay their tuition fee.
It is very critical that we train as many nurses as possible in treatment literacy. More trained nurses are necessary for reaching our target of treating at least 200,000 people by March 2006.
In Mpumalanga Province we are still negotiating with the Department of Health to give us a permission letter to go to clinics and train nurses and the community about treatment literacy. After the Mpumalanga People's Health summit that was hosted by TAC in November 2004 the Head of the Department of Health (Mr. Verachia) promised that the department would give us the permission letter. But they have still not done so and they did not show up at a meeting we organised. The last time they spoke to us was when they were trying to talk us into canceling the march we were going to have in Standerton on the 25 April 2005.
Government should understand that health care workers or nurses are working directly with people who are infected with HIV/AIDS, so they need to offer the nurses treatment literacy training for free of charge, maybe we should demonstrate because it seems that is the only language they understand.
[END OF NURSE TRAINING STORY - BACK TO CONTENTS
[END OF NEWSLETTER]