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TAC takes govt to court over ARV rollout timetable
Tuesday 16 November 2004
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SOUTH AFRICA: TAC takes govt to court over ARV rollout timetable

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]


About 11,200 South Africans are receving free ARVs

JOHANNESBURG, 4 November (PLUSNEWS) - South Africa's AIDS lobby group, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), on Thursday confronted the health department in court over an implementation timetable for the country's national treatment plan.

According to the latest official figures, 11,200 people are receiving free antiretroviral drugs, a far cry from government's original target of getting treatment to 53,000 people by March 2004, which has since been extended to March 2005.

TAC has been calling since February for the department of health to release Annexure A, an unpublished timetable that was part of government's larger plan to provide free drugs. The group took legal action in June to compel the government to release the document.

However, two months ago the department's lawyers said the document was never officially adopted.

The TAC's legal team has asked the court to force the department of health to pay legal costs "for taking this case so far" and insisted that government provide a new timetable.

In a statement the government said it was "regrettable that money earmarked for improving the health of all South Africans" had to be spent resolving legal matters.

TAC treatment literacy coordinator Sipho Mthati told PlusNews, "This is the culmination of a long process, where we've been trying to get information from the ministry of health about the plan on comprehensive care and treatment."

"The tragic thing is that it has become increasingly clear that the department of health has no timetable to measure the rollout against," she added.

Nevertheless, TAC welcomed the progress in implementing the treatment plan. "We are not interested in fighting government.

"We commend the efforts of many political leaders, health department managers and healthcare workers in provinces, such as the Western Cape and Gauteng, who are showing that ARV treatment can be implemented successfully and with some speed in the public health system," a TAC statement noted.


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