SECTION27 is a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights. Our name is drawn from the section in the South African Constitution which enshrines everyone's right to health care, food, water and social security.
Section 27(2) of the Constitution imposes on the state a positive obligation to take reasonable measures to realise the right of access to health care services for all. By enacting the Medical Schemes Act, 131 of 1998 (the Act), government has created a powerful framework for the effective regulation of the private medical scheme industry.
The global AIDS epidemic is one of the greatest threats to security and development in the world. Millions of people in developing countries are dying of AIDS, TB and malaria – while the first world sits idly by. High prices of medicines, protected from competition by patent law, make it impossible for poor people to protect themselves against illness and death.
The arguments and recommendations in this submission are based on a number of human rights and public health considerations. In particular we have focused on the following four areas: the rights of the survivor of sexual assault; the rights of the accused; theimpact of the draft bill on public health measures to limit spread of HIV; and the impact of the bill on state services for survivors of sexual assault. These are not isolated concerns, being interrelated and having an impact on each other.
On 19 April 2001, the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers’ Association of South Africa (PMA) and numerous multinationalbrand-name pharmaceutical companies abandoned their legal challenge to the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Act, 90 of 1997 (the Medicines AmendmentAct).
In this submission, we provide support for the majority of the Commission’s recommendations and make suggestions to strengthen certain areas. We have also indicated where we recommend that further research and discussions be conducted to find appropriate solutions.