Date: 12 May 1999
AZT – Debacle
An American pharmaceutical company’s decision to donate R600 million to fight against
AIDS in South Africa and four of its’ neighbouring countries, should not be regarded as an
encore by a company with a cash-surplus who’s social conscience is bothering him.
What this company, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and the UN Agency, UNIADS is actually saying,
is that AIDS here in Southern Africa is a threat for world health.
The American donation should serve as a wake-up call for the government as well as
taxpayers that this country is in the midst of a tragedy.
Because of that is the government’s renewed negative attitude towards the drug AZT
incomprehensible. UNAIDS has already said last year in October, that they will give this
drug for free to two hospitals in South Africa, but up until now nothing has happened. After
an almost unbelievably bureaucratic delay, it seems that one of the hospitals got
permission to use the drug.
If South Africa is going to support the UN programme against AIDS, then we can not afford
such mistakes. It does not make sense to say thank you for a donation such as the one
from the Americans, and then to react negatively towards an offer like that of UNAIDS
Date: 13 May 1999
Money for AIDS research “good signal to South Africa”
Company donates R620 million
That, notwithstanding 2 years of “medicine-war”
Washington – The donation of R620 million for HIV/AIDS research in Southern Africa by
one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Bristol-Myers Squibb, is being
translated as a positive signal to South Africa.
On the one hand is the South African government and the American pharmaceutical
industry, involved for almost 2 years, in a “medicine-war” over patent rights of “too
On the other hand; the rapid spreading of HIV/AIDS is threatening Southern Africa’s
economical and political consistency.
Ironically enough, the donation comes from a company that has been condemned by the
American Consumer activist, Mr. Ralph Nader, as a bloodsucker that will not hesitate to
climb over dead bodies, to loot Africa.
One of its’ employees Mr. Jamie Love, is an advisor to Dr. Nkosazana Zuma, Health
Minister, at the World Health Organisation, in Geneva.
Love recently organised a demonstration against the Corporate Council on Africa – a
corporation that represents 200 multinational corporations in Southern Africa – in
Washington to object against the expensive AIDS medicines for the South African
Zuma has been requested, in various speeches, to keep the pressure on the industry with
her controversial legislature, which is being seen by the industry as a violation of
intellectual proprietary rights.
The constituency of the law is presently being tested by the court. Judgement is awaited
very soon, that will determine whether the controversial art. 15 (c) constitutional is.
This clause gives her full power to give patent rights for new medicines, at her discretion,
to third parties for the supply of cheaper, genetic medicines.
The R620 million will primarily be used for the development of better, new medicines for
HIV/AIDS treatment, as well as training of medical personnel.
According to Mr. Charles Heimbold Jnr. CEO of the company, South Africa, Botswana,
Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland were chosen for the “Secure the Future” programme,
because 70% of all new infections worldwide can be found in Africa, south of the Sahara.
In South Africa alone, there is already more than 3,5 million people infected with the virus.
In Botswana, bout 36 percent of pregnant women are infected with the virus, and 4 out of 5
AIDS related deaths worldwide, occur in this region.
“The impact of HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa is startling. Our organisation, who is at the
forefront of research and production of new drugs, regard it as our moral obligation to act
and to help stop this trend and to improve victims quality of life.”
The organisation produces several medicines, including Zerit and Videx that in certain
cases oppressed the virus and extended the patients life.