Cape Town- South Africa (PANA) -- South Africa's Department of Health on Friday responded to the issues raised by the AIDS lobby group, the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), in a memorandum delivered to the management of the Frontier Hospital in the Eastern Cape.
This follows the outbreak of violence earlier this month when the TAC staged a protest march calling for antiretroviral treatment for HIV patients.
Fourty people were injured, allegedly when heavy-handed police opened fire on protesters asking for HIV treatment.
The TAC had urged the Premier of the Eastern Cape, Nosimo Balindlela to intervene and meet urgently with TAC to ensure that lives are saved by making sure that the implementation of the treatment plan and the roll-out of Anti-Retrovial therapy (ART) proceeds with urgency across the province.
In its response, the Department said more than 415 patients have been enrolled on the ART programme since the hospital started providing this type of treatment.
Furthermore, more than 6,000 people have begun taking ART in the 16 accredited treatment sites in the Eastern Cape province.
Health spokesman Sibani Mngadi said the Department has no objection to the TAC's request to assist in patient education around issues of HIV and AIDS.
"It is our intention to work together with civil society and other parties in addressing particularly the challenge of treatment compliance and patient support.
He said Frontier Hospital management has committed itself to set up monthly forum meetings that would be open to community organisations involved in the response to HIV and AIDS.
"We hope that lack of information, which has led to the TAC engaging in an unnecessary protest action against the Frontier Hospital has been addressed," he added.