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South African bishops attack medicine ban: CEN 2.27.09 p 6. February 28, 2009

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Health/HIV-AIDS.

The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa has denounced as “irresponsible” and shortsighted last year’s decision by the government of the Free State in South Africa to end distribution of anti-retroviral (ARV) medication to HIV patients due to a budget crunch.

Meeting in Modderpoort in the Free State from Feb 16-20, the Bishops said they were “shocked” by the government’s decision. Cutting off medicine to HIV patients due to a “shortage of funds” was medically and morally indefensible.

Last week the government of Free State premier Beatrice Marshoff lifted a four month moratorium on the health services distribution of ARVs. An estimated 15,000 existing patients were placed on waiting lists by the government while the number of those turned away for initial treatments is unknown.

Since the moratorium went into effect, at least 30 HIV positive people have died each day in the Free State, the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society said. According to a “conservative” projection of the Society, 20 HIV infected babies are born each month in the Free State, of which half will die before their first birthday.

In their statement, the Bishops said the Department of Health was well aware that ARVs must be taken consistently for it to be effective. “If medication is withdrawn wholesale from a large group of citizens, the impact on the lives of patients, and on the work of health professionals, will be enormous. Such deliberate action by a Department of Health is irresponsible,” the bishops said.

“We wholeheartedly support the South African Constitution’s affirmation that access to health care is a right of all citizens, and call on provincial and national government, in the name of God, to find a way to prevent this human catastrophe immediately.

“We assure those affected – patients, families, health workers and government – of our prayers and our support,” the bishops’ statement said.


1. Lizzie - March 3, 2009

Maybe the Church in South Africa needs to preach fidelity and abstinence to it’s congregation. This would minimize the spread of HIV.
The Govt. of S.Africa is not noted for intellectual choices and this ban on retroviral medicine is another outcome of their misrule.

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