South Africa: Part One – HIV Lessons for Covid-19

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Sumary of South Africa: Part One – HIV Lessons for Covid-19:

  • The first in this three-part series looks at how South Africans overcame the pharmaceutical patents blocking access to life-saving antiretrovirals during the country’s first epidemic, HIV and Aids..
  • In the wake of the devastation the coronavirus is causing in India, the United States has announced that it supports the Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (Trips) waiver as far as vaccines are concerned..
  • But just 20 years ago, the struggle for affordable antiretrovirals (ARVs) made for dark days in South Africa’s HIV and Aids epidemic..
  • Mpumi Mantangana, a nurse known to her peers as Sis’ Mpumi, had been a nurse for about a decade by the late 1990s, when South Africa’s HIV epidemic became an Aids epidemic..
  • The South African government sought to amend its laws in 1998 to allow the health minister to import more affordable generic medicines when in the interests of public health..
  • The case came to be known as Big Pharma vs Nelson Mandela and the PMA argued that South Africa was violating the Trips agreement..
  • The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and Act Up in New York and France carried out global and local campaigns to get the PMA to “drop the case”..
  • South Africa now had the ability to import more affordable medicines using mechanisms such as parallel importation or compulsory licencing, but never used them….

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