Africa: Mobilizing for the Right to Health, 11/20/02

Africa: Mobilizing for the Right to Health, 11/20/02

Africa: Mobilizing for the Right to Health Date distributed (ymd): 021120 Document reposted by Africa Action

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Region: Continent-Wide Issue Areas: +health+


This posting contains information on recent actions to defend the right to health by the newly formed Treatment Action Movement in Nigeria and the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa. These are only a few of the actions that activists and health workers around Africa are taking to fight back against HIV/AIDS.

In the U.S., on the eve of World AIDS day, organizations are organizing a demonstration in Washington, DC and a call-in day for others around the country on Tuesday, November 26. Demonstrators will be demanding a reversal of Bush administration policies of systematic neglect and disarmament in face of global threats to human health. Africa Action is a co-sponsor of this action, and is also actively involved in World AIDS Day events in the San Francisco Bay Area, Houston, and Atlanta.

Information on the demonstration and on other actions that can be taken to protest U.S. policy, as well as a brief article by Danny Glover on HIV/AIDS and Africa's Poverty, are in another posting also sent out today.

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AFRICA ACTION NOTE: As of November 27, 2002, the Africa Action office will be moving to a new address. We will be at 1634 Eye Street, NW, Suite 810, Washington, DC 20006. Telephone, fax, e- mail address, and website will not change.


Treatment Action Movement, Nigeria

Press Alert - November 17, 2002

Upcoming Meeting in Abuja Threatens Survival of People Living with HIV/AIDS, Advocates Warn

For further information, please contact: Olayide Akanni (Journalists Against AIDS Nigeria): 0802 3037 998 Rolake Nwagwu (AIDS Alliance Nigeria): 0803 3035 895

Bede Eziefule (Centre for the Right to Health): 0802 3330 995

November 17, 2002: HIV/AIDS treatment activists in Nigeria have expressed serious concern about a meeting in Abuja this week that threatens access to treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in the country.

The activists met on Saturday in Lagos under the auspices of the Treatment Action Movement (TAM), a coalition of civil society groups working in the area of HIV/AIDS treatment and care.

The activists say that the meeting, sponsored by the United States Department of Commerce, could erode access to cheap and affordable medicines, especially antiretrovirals (ARV) that are currently being enjoyed by people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) in Nigeria.

The meeting, holding on November 20-22 2002 at the Nicon Hilton Hotel in Abuja, will decide on the final draft for Nigeria's Intellectual Property (IP) law, which will, among other things, regulate importation of medicines for many of the most common epidemics in Africa, including HIV/AIDS.

The new law is being drafted in compliance with the Agreements on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), to which Nigeria is a signatory.

But activists are protesting the secretive nature of the forthcoming meeting, and the non-involvement of civil society groups in the preparations. Specifically, activists are concerned that the new draft law being prepared would disallow importation of cheap but effective generic HIV/AIDS medicines, thus leaving the market open only to monopolies of big pharmaceutical firms that would set high prices and ensure that the medicines are beyond the reach of Nigerians.

The situation could also lead to a stoppage of the federal government's current treatment programme, under which PLWA can get cheap ARV medicines purchased at low prices from generic manufacturers such as in India, as the new law will make such purchases illegal.

"It is outrageous that such an important meeting as one to draft an IP bill that will have implications on the fate of 3.5 million Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS, is being done without our input", said Pat Matemilola, president of the Network of People living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN). "Considering the great import of decisions that would emanate from this meeting as regards continued access to life-saving treatment, we feel that our lives are being jeopardized by this omission. We demand that the conveners of this meeting call us to the table. Our lives must not be toyed with".

Mohammed Farouk, coordinator of the AIDS Alliance in Nigeria, said the meeting constitutes "a calculated attempt to deny PLWA continued existence. We call on the bodies responsible to, as a matter of urgency, include all stakeholders most especially people with HIV/AIDS, to be part of this meeting".

The activists are demanding that organizers of the meeting: - invite representatives of PLWHA, the media and civil society to the Abuja meeting - provide full records of its deliberations, including the draft law that will be discussed at the meeting and - commit themselves to ensuring that clauses such as compulsory licensing, parallel importing and Bolar exceptions that will allow access by PLWA in Nigeria to cheap and affordable medicines are included in the draft bill

TAM is also calling on the National Action Committee on AIDS (NACA), the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Ministry of Justice and other relevant agencies of the federal government to ensure that the draft IP bill fully protects Nigerians' interests.

"Any effort to draft legislation that affects the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS must be seen to be open, inclusive and consultative", said Omololu Falobi of Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria. "Conveners of this meeting must demonstrate that they have interests of PLWA at heart by ensuring full participation of critical stakeholders, including the media and PLWA, in the deliberations"

"We believe that the rights of PLWA to affordable care and treatment should be protected by the Nigerian state", said Bede Eziefule of the Centre for the Right to Health (CRH). "Government must ensure that the rights of PLWHA to life-saving treatment are assured and legally-protected"

TAM also called on other civil society groups to support these demands by signing their names to the petition.


Treatment Action Movement in Nigeria formed

October 28, 2002

For more information contact: Olayide Akanni, Programme Officer Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria Email:

This message was distributed on the Nigeria-AIDS eForum ( To subscribe, send a blank email to: View message archives at

The Nigeria-AIDS eForum is a project of Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria. For further information, visit :

October 28, 2002 - Treatment advocates in Nigeria have announced the formation of a Treatment Action Movement (TAM) to spearhead activities to access care and treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria.

The establishment of the movement is one of the outcomes of two advocacy workshops held in Ibadan and Abuja on October 6-9 and October 13-16 2002 respectively. Organised by Journalists Against AIDS (JAAIDS) Nigeria with funding from the Ford Foundation, the workshops were part of a two-year project to expand access to HIV/AIDS care and treatment in Nigeria.

61 treatment advocates participated in both workshops, representing PLWHA groups, care and support organisations, the human rights community, the media, state action committees on AIDS and the Oyo State House of Assembly. Three participants came from South Africa: Jonathan Berger of the AIDS Law Project in Johannesburg and Messrs Vuyani Jacobs and Nombeko Mpongo of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

40 participants from Oyo, Ekiti, Osun, Ondo, Ogun and Lagos states attended the first workshop held at Lafia Hotel, Ibadan. They included representatives from notable PLWHA support groups such as Positive Life Association of Nigeria (PLAN) Ibadan; Living Hope Care, Ilesa; AIDS Alliance in Nigeria, Lagos; Life Care Organisation, Ado-Ekiti; Sagamu Community Centre, Sagamu; and the Network of People Living With HIV/AIDS in Nigeria (NEPWHAN).

Delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony, Oyo State Health Commissioner, Dr. Gbola Adetunji (represented by the Dr. Titilayo Ipadeola, permanent secretary in the ministry) emphasized the inextricable link between HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. He charged participants to lead the way in ensuring comprehensive treatment, care and support for PLWHA, pointing out that although political commitment is key to the provision of treatment, it has to be backed up by community involvement.

Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi of the Ford Foundation, and Mrs. Grace Delano of the Association for Family and Reproductive Health (ARFH), representing the Civil Society Consultative Group on HIV/AIDS (CiSCGHAN), delivered goodwill messages at the occasion. Other guests at the ceremony included Professor Femi Soyinka (representing the Governing Board of JAAIDS) and Dr. Pat Matemilola, national coordinator of NEPWHAN.

The workshop aimed at building treatment literacy among participants. Dr. Taiwo Adewole of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) put participants through an understanding of the scientific basis of HIV/AIDS and how antiretroviral drugs work. Prof. David Olaleye of the Virology Department of the University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan handled the session on Opportunistic Infections.

Dr. Ebun Adejuyigbe, consultant peadiatrician at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife, delivered the session on prevention of mother-to-child transmission while Dr. Pat Matemilola of NEPWHAN spoke on the role of Civil Society in expanding access to treatment.

Sessions on human rights approaches to securing access to treatment were presented by Jonathan Berger of the AIDS Law Project, South Africa and Ebenezer Durojaye of the Centre for Right to Health (CRH), Lagos. Participants were also able to benefit from the South African experience, with presentations by Vuyani Jacobs and Nombeko Mpongo of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

The workshop in Abuja held at Parkview Hotel. 21 participants representing groups from Kebbi, Benue, Niger, Adamawa and Nassarawa states as well as the Federal Capital Territory attended the workshop.

Resource persons at the Abuja workshop included Dr. Nasir Sani-Gwarzo of the federal ministry of health; Mrs. Nkechi Onah, National Moderator of CISGHAN; Dr. Wole Daini also of CiSCGHAN; Dr. Megh Raj of Bishop Murray Medical Centre, Makurdi and Mr. Omololu Falobi, Project Director of JAAIDS.

At the end of both workshops, participants stressed the need for expansion of the country care and support response to HIV/AIDS. Particular emphasis was also laid on the need to create more awareness on the available care and treatment options available to People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).

One of the major outcomes of the workshops was the inauguration of a Treatment Action Movement (TAM) to provide civil society oversights to care and support initiatives in the country. The movement would also ensure full and faithful implementation of the care and support components of national HIV/AIDS Emergency Action Plan as well as serve as an advocacy group which would partner with various stakeholders to ensure access to care and support for PLWHA across the country.

A 14-member steering committee comprising seven PLWHA and other activists nominated from both workshops would guide the activities of the movement. A treatment access conference, to be held early in 2003, is being proposed to formally launch the movement and expand the base of its membership.

The workshops also created a platform for networking between Nigerian activists and their South African counterparts through the participation of representatives from the AIDS Law Project and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC).

Three more workshops - in eastern and northern Nigeria - will be held in 2003 in continuation of the access to treatment project.


Treatment Action Campaign

Save 3 Million Lives And Prevent 2.5 Million Infections! Research Shows Need For A Comprehensive Treatment And Prevention Plan

September 26, 2002

[A fact sheet with more details, in pdf format, is available at: CostsAndBenefitsOfTreatmentAndPrevention.pdf-type URL on one line]

Urgent action by Government can save 3 million lives of people living with HIV/AIDS by 2015, reduce the number of orphans and prevent new infections. New research demonstrates the enormous social and economic costs our country will face if government does not lead civil society and the private sector in the use of antiretroviral therapy. The Treatment Action Campaign's (TAC) call for a national treatment plan by government with clear budgets and time-frames is the only chance this government has to avoid a social catastrophe.

Research conducted by the UCT Centre for Actuarial Research (CARE) demonstrates that a comprehensive treatment and prevention plan that incorporates antiretroviral therapy will prevent millions of AIDS deaths and new HIV infections. By implementing voluntary counselling and testing, mother-to-child transmission prevention, improved management of sexually transmitted infections and highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), nearly 3 million AIDS deaths can be averted and over 2.5 million HIV infections can be prevented by 2015. Furthermore a treatment programme that includes HAART can prevent approximately a million double-orphans (children under the age of 18 both of whose parents have died).

The TAC has used the results of the CARE research to estimate costs of implementing these programmes. The cost of HAART for adults gradually increases from R224 million in 2002 to R6.8 billion in 2007 to a peak of R18.1 billion in 2015. These amounts include personnel and monitoring costs and assume that generic medicines that have been proven equivalent to patented brand-name drugs are available for use. With a realistic price reduction in antiretroviral medicines to R300 per month for a first-line regimen and R450 per month for a second-line regimen, the cost of Adult HAART can be reduced to R14.1 billion in 2015. Adult HAART is the most expensive of the health interventions that CARE has modelled but has the most significant effect on life-expectancy and AIDS deaths.

Central to our work is the right to life and dignity of all people. But, a clear human rights approach is not the only gain for society. Treatment will not only save lives, it will reduce hospitalisation costs to the public health sector and the cost of orphan grants and caring for orphans. Furthermore, through treatment we can avoid: the collapse of the public health system; loss of human capital (e.g. teachers, nurses, students); and immense social dysfunction. In addition, the economy will benefit from investment in health-care, stability in productivity and retention of skills.

While modelling the future is not an exact science, this is the most comprehensively researched work of this kind that has yet been done with regard to the South African HIV epidemic. It is therefore the best information available and there is an imperative to act upon it, given the challenges the HIV epidemic poses for South Africa's development. Government must now meet its Constitutional duty to ensure the rights to life, dignity and health-care. It must develop and implement a plan which at a minimum incorporates voluntary counselling and testing, mother-to-child transmission prevention of HIV, improved management of sexually transmitted infections and highly active antiretroviral therapy. By working together all sectors of South African society can alleviate the worst effects of the HIV epidemic. We must act now!

(The CARE research was commissioned by the TAC. We wish to thank Leigh Johnson, Professor Rob Dorrington, the Centre for Actuarial Research, Alex Van Den Heever, Chris Raubenheimer and all the health care professionals and researchers who provided information for this work. This research will be submitted to NEDLAC, the Health Ministry, SANAC and provincial health departments.)

The full CARE report is available from


Message-Id: <> From: "Africa Action" <> Date: Wed, 20 Nov 2002 18:33:16 -0500 Subject: Africa: Mobilizing for the Right to Health

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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