Monday, August 13, 2007

Petition in Support of Ms Madlala Routledge

Please go to this link and sign the petition in support of the fired deputy health minister of South Africa, Nozizwe Madlala Routledge.

Whether it changes anything or not, the more political pressure the better, and the more support the better.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

South African AIDS disaster continues

For those following the global HIV/AIDS epidemic, the real issues have been focused on African nations. AIDS denial, for the most part, is a luxury afforded to the West where HIV and AIDS isn't as publicly noticeable. One sad outlier of course has been the Government of South Africa.

Thabo Mbeki has grabbed the headlines for years for his bizarre failure to firstly even admit that AIDS existed, then that it was a problem and that HIV was even the cause of AIDS. Public education campaigns and the supply of antiretroviral medications have been slow to non-existent. He even refused free antiviral medication offered by pharmaceutical companies. He pulled together a "Presidential AIDS advisary Panel" to discuss whether HIV caused AIDS after reading about AIDS denial on the internet. His health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, recently touted the benefits of lemon juice, garlic and potatoes as an AIDS treatment as an international AIDS meeting, to ubiquitous ridicule from the world's scientists.

One shining star however stood up to bravely try to change the course of this sinking ship. When Minister Tshabalala-Msimang was hospitalized with what turned out to be severe liver disease, the Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge made several key statements that suggested a possible change of strategy. However this was not without risk, and several times she apparently angered the establishment enough to have to backtrack or moderate her statements.

Most recently she attended, or at least tried to attend, an international AIDS conference in Spain. Just after arriving she was told that the formality of requesting Presidential approval for such a trip had been denied. She returned immediately without attending the event.

And Mbeki had his excuse. Today, on the eve of Woman's Day in South Africa, she was fired.

Mbeki has once again shown his true colours, as a fool with enough ego to feel bruised by an intelligent woman standing up for her country's best interests. If Tshabalala-Msimang remains in control, and if the new Deputy is either of the same ilk, or too timid to risk their job, this spells disaster for the meagre progress South Africa has made to date.