A special task force last week presented South African Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang with a national plan to distribute anti-HIV drugs through the public health system. The report comes a month after the government, under pressure to fight AIDS in the country, ordered the ministry to draft a distribution plan by the end of September. The report task team comprised Health Ministry officials and members of the William Jefferson Clinton Foundation. While the minister of health is expected to deliver the report to the cabinet soon, no details of the report were immediately released.
Earlier this year Msimang said it was highly unlikely the drugs would be made available in 2003, even if the plan were approved. An earlier government treatment study, leaked to the press in July by the AIDS activist group Treatment Action Campaign, found that more than 1.7 million South Africans could be saved by 2010 if the government made anti-HIV drugs immediately available. About 1.8 million additional children will lose a parent by 2010 if the drugs are not provided, according to the study, which was compiled by health and finance officials.