The Treatment Action Campaign and Section 27 today congratulated Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and his team for securing antiretroviral drugs for South Africa at the best global prices for the next two years.
“It is my pleasure to announce the massive reduction in the prices of antiretroviral drugs which has resulted in the 53,1% reduction in the cost of the total tender which translates to a R4,7 billion savings,” Motsoaledi said yesterday.
Section 27 activist Jonathan Berger responded today: “This is in stark contrast to the previous tender, which resulted in South Africa paying significantly more than necessary for ARV medicines.
“For example, South Africa will now be paying – on average – about R115 per patient per month for the standard triple combination of tenofovir (TDF), lamivudine (3TC) and efavirenz (EFV). Under the previous tender, the country committed to pay about R110 for EFV alone – just a few rands less for only one drug.”
Remember the dark days when TAC fought the government on issues like access to antiretrovirals? South Africa has come a long way since then and Motsoaledi is leading from the front.
While welcoming the antiretroviral tender gains, TAC and Section 27 still raise the following concerns:
* First, the rules under which the tender was conducted do not make provision for price reductions in the event that input costs (such as the costs of active pharmaceutical ingredients) decline.
* Second, as was the case with the 2008 ARV tender, the published documents do not explain how the points awarded to winning bidders were allocated.
* Third, the 2010 tender did not include any TDF-containing three-in-one fixed dose combinations (FDCs). We believe that the DoH should continue to strive to include such FDCs in future procurement processes, as their use will greatly improve patient adherence.
* Fourth, the extent to which the DoH was able to take control of the tender process remains unclear – in our view, the National Treasury appears to have retained undue influence.
The 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children ended today, on International Human Rights Day, with Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa calling on the police “to safeguard society”.
One in four women in South Africa say they have been raped and one in three men admit to perpetrating rape, according to a recent Medical Research Council report.
The chances of getting HIV are higher through violent sex, and one out of five confessed rapists tested positive for HIV.
In 2007, 36 190 cases of rape – 99 per day – were reported to police.
One out of two women in the survey said they had experienced violence during their lives and three out of four men said they had committed violence against women.
NGOs like Brothers for Life are taking a stand against this violence but we all need to take action and not look away, in line with the campaign’s slogan.
* Call Childline on 08000 55555 or Lifeline on 0861 322 322 if you are at risk of abuse or need support
* Seek help if you are emotionally, physically or sexually abusive to your partner and/or children. Call the Stop Gender Based Violence helpline: 0800 150 150
It’s official: The World Health Organisation today endorsed a remarkable test for rapidly diagnosing TB after 18 months of evaluation in the field.
Three times more patients with drug-resistant TB and twice as many patients with TB and HIV could benefit from this technology, which is safe and easy to use as it is fully automated.
“The test could revolutionize TB care and control by providing an accurate diagnosis for many patients in about 100 minutes, compared to current tests that can take up to three months to have results,” said Dr Mario Raviglione, Director of WHO’s Stop TB Department.
“We have the scientific evidence, we have defined the policy, and now we aim to support implementation for impact in countries.”
The NAAT (nucleic acid amplification) test is effective for the early diagnosis of TB, multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and TB complicated by HIV infection.
“WHO is now calling for the fully automated NAAT to be rolled out under clearly defined conditions and as part of national plans for TB and MDR-TB care and control,” Raviglione said.
WHO will release recommendations for countries to incorporate this test in their programmes.
Co-developer FIND (the Foundation for Innovative and New Diagnostics) announced today that the manufacturer, Cepheid, has agreed to a 75% reduction in the price for countries most affected by TB, following negotiations.
Even though TB is a curable disease, tuberculosis killed an estimated 1.7 million people in 2009 and 9.4 million people developed active TB last year.
Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga, Usher and Justin Timberlake have given up their digital lives to support a campaign for AIDS orphans in Africa and India.
They are among a group of popular stars who have died digital deaths to raise funds for Keep a Child Alive.
They will not Twitter or do Facebook updates until one million dollars is donated to the project – to buy back their lives.
Fans in the US and UK have so far contributed $182 828, which means they are more than a tenth of the way to this goal.
Visit their sites to read the last tweets and testaments.
Keep a Child Alive provides “treatment, love and support to families affected by HIV/AIDS”, particularly to the 15 million children without parents.
The Buy Life campaign exploits the popularity of social media in an innovative way.
Amid a myriad of World AIDS Day stories and reports this week, their concept stands out even to me, a digital dinosaur.
I have ambivalent feelings about World AIDS Day.
As an HIV reporter I’m glad space is set aside for stories.
But, this epidemic demands attention every day if we want to defeat it and have HIV/AIDS free generations.