AIDS ADVICE FOR MBEKI FROM JIMMY CARTER
By Ben Maclennan
Business Day (South Africa) 8 March 2002
Former United States president Jimmy Carter has urged President Thabo Mbeki
to learn lessons from poorer African countries that have been much more
effective in fighting AIDS.
Speaking to journalists after meeting the president in Cape Town on Friday
morning, Carter called for Mbeki to give "full and unequivocal support" to
He said the AIDS issue in this country had been "grossly distorted" by the
controversy over Mbeki's attitude to the disease and his aversion to
Also at the meeting were Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Bill
Gates senior, co-chairman of the Gates Foundation, who is accompanying
Carter on a tour to assess AIDS in Africa.
Carter heads the Carter Center, which he founded in 1982 to address public
policy issues including disease prevention in the developing world.
He said he and Gates believed South Africa had not made "adequate progress"
in preventing new cases of AIDS, which were increasing "by leaps and bounds
It is estimated that a quarter of a million South Africans die with AIDS
"There are a lot of other countries that have much less wealth per capita
and in total, and practically no business infrastructure to help them, that
have done superb jobs with minimal expenditure emphasising the prevention of
AIDS," Carter said.
Senegal and Uganda were two examples of this.
"One of the things we discussed with President Mbeki was if there is a
determination of things that have worked in poor countries, that might work
here, how can they be combined into a cohesive programme, with full and
unequivocal support from the top leaders, that is the president, and then
what would it take to finance them.
"What we thought was, once a comprehensive programme could be evolved, which
might be the best ever, we would be glad to help find sources of funding."
He said Mbeki and the minister "claim that they're doing all they can, that
they have a very fine programme".
"I think that still remains to be seen," Carter said.
He and Gates were "very touched" by their visit on Thursday, with former
president Nelson Mandela, to a Soweto clinic running AIDS education and
prevention programmes, and by watching prospective mothers discovering they
One of the things they pointed out to Mbeki and the minister was the
"emotional impact" of the clinic, where they baby-sat HIV-positive infants.
They had also asked Mbeki why the government had taken Gauteng premier
Mbhazima Shilowa to task when he tried to expand mother-to-child HIV
transmission prevention sites beyond the two official pilot sites in the