Delay in AIDS drug rollout defended
Friday 26 March 2004
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SOUTH AFRICA: Delay in AIDS drug rollout defended

JOHANNESBURG, 18 February (PLUSNEWS) - South African health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has defended delays in the government's national HIV/AIDS drug rollout by saying that the country's health care system was in a "shambles".

Speaking during a recent rally to mark the start of the national Sexually Transmitted Infection and Condom Week, the minister said currently only 2,000 out of 20,000 state doctors were reportedly able to administer and manage antiretroviral drug treatment.

Tshabalala-Msimang told the crowd: "The health care system is in shambles, and it would be irresponsible to begin dishing out antiretroviral drugs before we are ready."

The speech came a week after the AIDS activist group, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), expressed concern over the lack of progress in the national rollout, agreed upon by the cabinet in November 2003.

[ENDS]

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