In Response to SA Government's Reluctancy towards Brazilian ARV drugs
Letter from the Khayelistha support groups in response to Thabo Mbeki’s spokesman’s claim that the import of Brazilian generic antiretrovirals amounted to “biological warfare”.
The following letter was printed in the Mail and Guardian in South Africa.
Dear President Mbeki,
We are all people living with HIV/AIDS and taking antiretroviral therapy in a programme run by Médecins Sans Frontières in Khayelitsha, Western Cape.
We are writing to you today to inform you that statements made by your spokesman, Smuts Ngonyama, in The Star on 31 January 2002 are wrong. Mr Ngonyama is quoted as saying that “This [importation of antiretrovirals] may open our country to biological warfare.”
The use of antiretroviral drugs from Brazil is not biological warfare. It is the exact opposite: these drugs are keeping us alive. They have prevented us from getting sick and have allowed us to feel better and to go back to work. Also, these medicines were imported with the approval of the Medicines Control Council, a fact that Mr Ngonyama completely ignored.
We would like you to personally clear up the confusion caused by Mr Ngonyama’s statement and by previous statements about the toxicity of antiretroviral drugs, so we today invite you to visit Khayelitsha and meet with us, so that you can hear firsthand from us, people taking antiretroviral therapy, that these medicines are not poisonous and that they help, rather than hurt, us.
Nosiseko Kopisang, Matthew Damane, Florence Ntombifikile, Muriel Boniswa Bostander, Pumla Gsasamba, Nolufefe Qubula, Noluvo Joya, Thulani Skeyi, Phumza Nomkoko, Phumla Mafuya, Thandiwe Jaji, Xoliswa Ganca, Noloyiso Balintulo, Sindiswa Mapasa, Fundiswa Teta, Patricia Mohare, Thandiswa Yibata, Pumla Dladla, Vuyani Jacobs, Nolusndo Madlebe. (Support Groups. Antiretroviral Programme, Khayelitsha.)