Leadership failure in fight against HIV/AIDS - COSATU

SOUTH AFRICA: Leadership failure in fight against HIV/AIDS - COSATU

JOHANNESBURG, 26 Sep 2005 (PLUSNEWS) - The leader of South Africa's trade union movement has accused President Thabo Mbeki and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang of "failure of leadership" and "betrayal of our people and our struggle" in stemming the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Zwelinzima Vavi, secretary-general of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), questioned whether the President was at all concerned about the epidemic and the slow pace of the antiretroviral (AVR) rollout, The Star newspaper reported.

He told the national congress of HIV/AIDS lobby group Treatment Action Campaign that the government's main failures were the lack of comprehensive HIV/AIDS education campaigns and sex education in schools, an inadequate health system, and underfunding and poor management of the public health sector.

The COSATU leader also criticised Tshabalala-Msimang for stressing the role of nutrition and traditional medicine for people living with HIV/AIDS, while completely failing to push for better access to ARVs.

According to Vavi, "Too many times we hear her talk about spinach - there is nothing wrong with encouraging our people to eat and live healthily, but it is very wrong when there is silence about the need to ensure people have access to cheap antiretrovirals."


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