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Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane responds to Constitutional Court ruling on AIDS in South Africa

Posted on: July 8, 2002 11:06 AM
Related Categories: Southern Africa

The Constitutional Court's ruling that compels the government to provide drugs that reduce the risk of the transmission of HIV from mother to foetus is both welcome and alarming. While the outcome is a tribute to those who have persevered against severe odds to bring the Government to its moral obligation to care for its citizens, we cannot lose sight of the time and lives that have in the meanwhile been lost and will continue to be at risk until our State hospitals shift into gear. I have said it before and will say it again: to dither on these issues is to fail Creation.

I also firmly believe that it is time to look way beyond mother-to-child transmission of the disease and to bring anti-retrovirals out of the arena of the elite and into the domain of the vast majority who need them. I say this against the backdrop of the latest UN AIDS report and its warning that the pandemic is yet to peak.

It is this report that clearly warns us that access to care is a basic necessity in programming in every setting - from the wealthiest to the poorest - and needs to encompass the full continuum, including anti-retroviral therapy.

We need, particularly if we want to realise our Nepad dreams, to act quickly and with common purpose.