|19 December 2001
SOUTH AFRICA: Government to appeal judgement on AIDS drugs
Celebrations among activists and South Africans living with HIV/AIDS
were cut short on Dec 19 when government announced it would appeal a judgement
instructing the state to implement a drug treatment programme for HIV-infected
pregnant women and new-born babies.
Health Minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, said government would appeal
the judgement in the Constitutional Court. ''We consider it critical, in order
to create certainty in the public policy domain, to seek the wisdom of the
Constitutional Court,'' she said. Civil society had hoped government would
accept last week's judgement and not take it on appeal.
At the same time government extended an olive branch to the front of
non-governmental organisations (NGOs), trade unions and churches which had
assembled to support the court action of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC)
last month. Tshabalala-Msimang also said government would meet in January to
assess its existing mother to child transmission prevention programme and would
consult with civil society on future plans. According to the courts rule,
the government must also put a national programme in place to reduce HIV
transmission from mothers to children. Details of the programme need to be
lodged by the end of March 2002 - the court deadlines however no longer apply
when an appeal is lodged.
It is estimated that as many as 70,000 children, a year, are infected
through mother-to-child transmission of HIV. (ips)