MBEKI ORDERED TO ISSUE AIDS DRUG
By Mungo Soggot
The Guardian (London) 12 March 2002
Johannesburg -- The South African government suffered the latest in a series of
embarrassments over its AIDS policies yesterday when a court ruled that it
had to start providing anti-retroviral drugs immediately for HIV-positive
pregnant women in state hospitals.
The ruling follows a decision by the Pretoria high court last December
which compelled the government to provide the drugs. The government
postponed any action after seeking permission to appeal.
But yesterday the high court ruled that although the government could
appeal to the constitutional court it must, in the meantime, start
administering the drugs in suitably equipped state hospitals.
Anti-retrovirals have been proved to be effective at reducing the
transmission of the disease from mother to child. But President Thabo
Mbeki's government has refused to acknowledge the drugs' efficacy and
dawdled over providing them in state hospitals.
The court's decision coincides with turmoil in the ruling African National
Congress (ANC) over the government's response to the disease. At its
national executive meeting this week, the ANC will discuss AIDS policy,
which has undermined Mr Mbeki's presidency, exposing him to scathing