Opposition party unveils AIDS policy document

Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- South Africa's official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has unveiled a living AIDS policy discussion document in an attempt to implement a comprehensive anti-retroviral treatment programme in the country.
DA leader Tony Leon, MP, said South Africa cannot wait for a definitive conclusion to a 10-year-old fringe debate about whether HIV causes AIDS.
"The world has moved on since then, and we at the epicentre of the pandemic must keep moving too," Leon told the DA Aids Policy Conference in Cape Town.
He said South Africans cannot wait for a government which treats HIV/AIDS as an aspect of a wider battle against poverty, "because AIDS will not wait for us to win that long, slow battle".
"Relatively poor countries like ours no longer have to focus on prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections alone.
With sufficient political will, the DA believes it would now be possible to implement an effective, comprehensive anti-retroviral treatment programme in South Africa.
" He said cheaper anti-retroviral drugs, however vital, would not by themselves provide the answer.
An anti-retroviral programme will require a major overhaul of health care infrastructure, to distribute, administer and monitor treatment as rapidly and widely as possible, without compromising quality and safety.
"Because of our relatively sophisticated infrastructure, South Africa is better positioned than most developing countries to provide anti-retroviral treatment.
"Many of the offers for international aid involve infrastructural assistance.
It is up to us to convince the world that we have the will and ability to make this programme work," he said.
To improve health care infrastructure for an effective anti- retroviral treatment programme, the DA has proposed linking HIV testing, counselling and treatment to TB clinics and workplace clinics and introducing anti-retroviral treatment courses into medical school curricula.
The party also suggests that the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act should be improved to restore the independence and quality control effectiveness of the Medicines Control Council.

30 may 2001 08:53:00

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