Tuesday, February 14, 2006

They Should Rename it the Ministry for the Promotion of Death and Disease

In yet another blow to Aids treatment in South Africa, the Health Ministry has declared that people who prefer to use traditional Aids treatments, even untested ones, should be allowed to do so.

Yes, you read that right. Even untested ones. The Ministry of Health is advocating that people take untested treatments for life-threatening illnesses. I wonder why all those cancer clinics in Tijuana don't just up and move to Cape Town right now.

Here are some fantastic quotes from the article:

"It is not about choosing one or another," ministerial spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said on the topic of advising Aids sufferers about conventional antiretroviral treatments as opposed to traditional ones.

Yes, yes it is about choosing one or the other. You may as well say it's not about choosing a long life or a quick death. As far as most people are concerned, there is no choice between the two.

The Democratic Alliance said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang would be responsible for any deaths resulting from her alleged promotion of untested treatments... The ministry hit back with an accusation of racism, saying the DA undermined traditional African knowledge and practices."It is disturbing to note that the (DA) continues to perpetuate racist stereotypes that African traditional medicines are inferior products manufactured by wizards," it said in a statement.

Racist? I should be shocked by the absurdity of this statement, but to be honest cries of 'racism' are a knee-jerk reaction when it comes to our goverment. They bring it up at the least provocation, like some sort of get-out-of-jail free card guaranteed to focus attention elsewhere by vilifying the complainant. And are you telling me that African traditional methods are not 'inferior products' manufactured by 'wizards'? Has there suddenly been some sort of explosion of clinical trials? Have sangomas suddenly stopped being witch doctors and started getting medical degrees? I think not.

African traditional medicine was providing relief to millions of Africans despite sustained efforts to undermine its credibility, the ministry said.

Really? Show me the studies and the papers to back that up, please.

KwaZulu-Natal health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni had told a home-based care project, run by Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka's mother, to administer the ubhejane herb mixture to HIV-positive patients. According to the newspaper, Ubhejane is a mixture of 89 herbs said to have a "potent activity" against opportunistic infections associated with HIV/Aids. It said the University of KwaZulu-Natal's medical school was conducting research on its effectiveness. The DA said Ubhejane was being administered to patients in KwaZulu-Natal, reportedly on the instruction of the minister and MEC, despite not having been proven to be effective. The drug's inventor has not submitted it for testing, and would not disclose what it contained, the party said. Also, a month's supply of Ubhejane cost R342, more than the cost of mainstream antiretroviral treatment.

So let me get this straight: people who are at the very highest level of those entrusted with the nation's health are giving untested drugs to HIV patients, at a higher cost than tested ones? Not only is the efficacy not yet shown, if the drug's inventor won't disclose what it contains how exactly is it being checked whether or not it contains allergens that may be fatal to those consuming it? Side effects? Contra-indications? Anything?

This kind of behaviour is irresponsibility verging on the criminal. That it comes in a country with more than a 10% infection rate, from the people who are meant to be helping and healing, is just disgusting. DA health spokeswoman Dianne Kohler-Barnard put it so well that I can do no better than to close with her words:

"The efficacy and safety of any medicine must be proved before it can be advocated or provided by the State; if this is not done, then any deaths that result will be the direct responsibility of the minister."


Blogger schpat said...

I think they should give patients a choice:

1. Antiretrovirals, these have been scientifically formulated and while they do not cure AIDS or rid you of HIV they do have at least some effect on prolonging your life

2. Superstitious Mumbo Jumbo, these have no proven effect and may even harm you, but they are blessed by your witch doctor and contain the power of you ancestors

Let them decide

I like to think of it as a form of Darwinism

February 14, 2006 2:18 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

I'm going to give you a hint:

Every patient using ARV treatments cost the government money.

Patients going to Samgomas and paying them money for their water/dirt mixture costs the government nothing.

In fact I wouldn't be surprised if there was some nice backhanding going on.


Though this is just as much conspiracying as the Altworld stuff you so detest one post down.

February 15, 2006 2:09 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home