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.
This submission argues that there is a growing crisis of disease and ill health in South Africa that not only undermines the quality of life of millions of individuals, but also crucial programmes aimed at the reconstruction and development of the country. Much of this crisis could have been avoided. It results, in large part, from the failure of government to recognize the link between fundamental rights to dignity, equality and autonomy and the state’s constitutional obligations in respect of the right to have access to health care services.
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.
Government Notice 2007 of 2005 (Government Gazette No. 28214 of 11 November 2005) calls for submissions – amongst other things – on a methodology for conforming with international benchmarks of the prices of medicines. According to the notice, the methodology will be determined and published by the Minister of Health (“the Minister”) in terms of regulation 5(2)(e) of the Regulations Relating to a Transparent Pricing System for Medicines and Scheduled Substances (“the pricing regulations”).
In an advertisement placed in the Sunday Times (dated 23 October 2005 and entitled “Call for Submissions”), the Pricing Committee invited “interested parties to provide input on an appropriate dispensing fee as envisaged in terms of section 22G of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, Act No. 101 of 1965” (the Medicines Act). In particular, the advertisement called for interested parties to “provide input on all issues that are relevant to the determination of an appropriate dispensing fee.”