From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS3540 Statement issued by Archbishop of Cape Town,

From "Anglican Communion News Service" <>
Date Wed, 6 Aug 2003 19:54:00 +0100

ACNS 3540     |     SOUTHERN AFRICA	 |     6 AUGUST 2003 

Statement issued by Archbishop of Cape Town, Njongonkulu Ndungane,
regarding the government's stance on anti-retrovirals

[ACNS source: Church of the Province of Southern Africa] When a globally
honoured AIDS researcher like Professor James McIntyre of the
Baragwanath Peri Natal Clinic says 100,000 women in labour have been
treated with Nevirapine in the past two years with no adverse effects,
and when the World Health Organisation estimates that this medicine
halves mother-to-child transmission then I am heartened by the simple
arithmetic that tells at least 50,000 babies have been saved. So how can
one even contemplate doubling AIDS related national infant mortality -
an estimated 100 infants a day - as government seems hell bent on
de-registering a treatment that even our Constitutional Court
acknowledges is the best resource we have at the moment.  How can our
government, born out of a struggle for justice, strive to ignore the
directive of its own court? 

How can our government not acknowledge that Nevirapine is recommended in
dozens of countries in the world, and our own as a safe chronic

Interestingly, the Medical Control Council is not questioning the drug's
safety for lifelong use as part of triple therapy in pregnant women and
infected children. To quote a health journalist, 'all that is being
questioned is its use during labour'. 

How can those who govern us bear to face the reality of human suffering
that accompanies all those who have died and those who are condemned to
certain death because there was and is no treatment for them - the very
treatment that the poor are receiving in other developing countries? 

When our Government refuses a donation of Nevirapine and places at risk
Global Fund monies for our most infected region, KwaZulu Natal, it must
answer to the nation. 

When our Minister of Health continues to question the efficacy of
anti-retrovirals and talks blithely about waiting for the right
structures to be in place she, and those who support her, are equating
the AIDS virus with manageable diseases. If only our health department
could act with the same admirable sense of urgency that was applied to
the meningitis scare in Gauteng .  The minister is quite right when she
says the AIDS pandemic is the responsibility of every government
department and I believe it is time her fellow ministers accepted
responsibility for what has become a world disgrace as serious as

The fact that 600 people are dying daily is a serious indictment on our
elected government and leaves the impression that it doesn't care
whether we live or die.

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