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.
In South Africa, as in any society, people’s health is a major factor in both personal and social development. But in South Africa, unlike many other societies, people have a constitutional right both to access health services and to be treated in a way that should improve their health. For example, the rights to dignity, authonomy and equality should all inform and have an impact on the right to health. But despite this, South Africa is a very unhealth society and many indicators of health are getting worse. The HIV epidemic, violence against women, and homelessness all have a negative impact on health.
A week after Cabinet adopted the Operational Plan for Comprehensive HIV and AIDS Care, Management and Treatment for South Africa (“the Operational Plan”) in November 2003, MM – an inmate at Westville Correctional Centre and the seventh applicant in the case of EN v Government of Republic of South Africa (No 1) – was diagnosed withoesophageal candidiasis, an AIDS-defining illness.
We welcome the opportunity to comment on the draft NSP 5-year plan. Although we are aware that the Chief Director: HIV/AIDS and STDs has requested only short inputs (“not essays”) the complexity of the plan, and its importance to South Africa, has required the detailed response below. In addition, whilst working on this submission a further draft (dated 14 November 2006) has been made available. However, most of the points we deal with below remain relevant.
The AIDS Law Project (ALP) welcomes this opportunity to make written submissionson the Health Professions Amendment Bill [B 10 – 2006] (“the Bill”). As an organisation that has consistently sought to ensure that the Health Professions Council (“the Council”) holds health professionals to account, we welcome the Bill and the many positive contributions we believe it will make in advancing and safeguarding the public interest.
Since October 2005 the TAC and the AIDS Law Project (ALP) have assisted HIV positive inmates at Westville Prison in acquiring ARVs that have routinely been refused to them by prison authorities. Situated in Kwazulu Natal, one of the provinces most severely affected by HIV/AIDS, Westville had steadfastly prevented TAC or other NGOs from conducting treatment workshops, treatment literacy programs, or any form of HIV awareness training.