AIDS Healthcare Foundation adds its voice to calls for healthcare reform in the Free State
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA (5 March 2015) The AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) has been running clinical programs in South Africa since 2002. We have worked in partnership with the government for almost a decade and know firsthand how good governance and constructive engagement can save lives. AHF believes that it is the responsibility of all citizens to work with government to build a better life for all. When government fails to deliver on its promise of healthcare for the people, responsible citizens do not remain silent, they act in the best tradition of the democratic struggle and work to realise the promise of our democracy, demanding access to quality healthcare for all.
As longtime treatment advocates and providers, we believe NGOs play a crucial role in helping people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) and those at risk of becoming infected, to access antiretroviral treatment and prevention services.
Recently a handful of organisations called for the South African Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) to be de-registered after it publicly voiced concerns about the mismanagement and lack of accountability within the government healthcare system in the province of Free State.
The attack on TAC appears to be a politically motivated attempt to silence the whistleblowers who have brought to light barriers to AIDS treatment access in the province.
Consequently, we are of the opinion that calls to de-register TAC are misguided and counterproductive. TAC has a track record of fighting for access to AIDS treatment spanning nearly two decades. TAC’s campaigns have helped create a universal government-provided AIDS treatment programme in the country, which has since become the world’s largest.
The current crisis in the Free State healthcare system as highlighted by TAC offers an opportunity to improve it so that it may better serve the people of Free State. Punishing civil society for seeking to ensure better access to healthcare for the people of South Africa is contrary to the principles of democracy that underpin our Constitution. We urge organisations calling for TAC to be de-registered to stand down in the interests of good governance and access to healthcare for all South Africans.
Further, we call on the Minister of Health to investigate the allegations made by the TAC and whistleblowers. We request that the Minister ensure that the people of the Free State have access to treatment.