TAC HANDS OVER MEMORANDUM TO MOTSOALEDI
Written by: Nqobile Msomi
On Mandela Day, activists marched through the city of Durban. The march was organized by Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), SECTION27 and United States-based Health Gap following the opening of the International AIDS Conference at the International Convention Centre (ICC).
They then handed over a memorandum over to the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, US Ambassador Patrick Gaspard and many others.
The memorandum outlined the need to get antiretroviral treatment to people living with HIV across the world.
Anele Yawa, Secretary-General of the Treatment Action Campaign, said that today in South Africa, 440 people will die of AIDS, 440 more will die tomorrow and the next day, whilst 18 people die every hour.
“Our political leaders want to talk about the millions who are on treatment—which is a far cry from the last Durban AIDS conference. But we know that instead we have to tell the truth about the majority who still lack access… about insufficient funding, about the high price of medicines,” stated Yawa.
Motsoaledi said that they would look at the memorandum and get back to TAC. But he was unhappy that nothing in the memorandum touched on Tuberculosis (TB).
Ramaphosa thanked them for being the activists that they were.
“We believe in your course and we thank you for stepping up for the rights of people who are living with HIV.We want to see HIV incidents in South Africa going down over time. In the same time we want to see young from around the world talking about their hopes, aspirations as well as talking about how we can curb the incidents of HIV,” continued Ramaphosa
He praised the work done by government and said how they had improved from 2000.
“Now you know our government this time around, 16 years later after Nkosi Johnson addressed this conference in 2000, we have moved mountains and everything else to make sure that there is treatment available to 3.4 million people . That is not a small number.3.4 million people toaday are getting treatment,” concluded Ramaphosa.
“We have to talk about corrupt officials in the health system [like Free State MEC for Health Benny Malakoane] and why governments would rather let people die than clean up their political houses. The time for this evasion ends now—AIDS is a crisis, a political crisis, and the same old rhetoric must end,” said Yawa.
*Caption: Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers speech alongside Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.