Health minister to defend MTCT court challenge

Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang would defend legal action instituted by the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) aimed at ensuring state provision of the anti-retroviral drug Nevirapine to pregnant HIV positive women countrywide, Health-e News reported on Wednesday.

Tshabalala-Msimang and all nine provincial health ministers would defend the action, although the Western Cape province minister would be represented by a different legal team, the report said. At present, only pregnant HIV positive women who attend ante-natal clinics at one of 18 pilot sites countrywide are offered free Nevirapine, which according to research can cut the rate of transmission of HIV from mothers to their babies by up to 50 percent.

According to the report, the TAC has argued that the restriction of the drug violates the Bill of Rights, and that it is “illogical” that doctors in the private sector can prescribe Nevirapine whereas doctors in public sector can not. The report said the Western Cape and Gauteng authorities had written to the TAC’s lawyers explaining their plans to extend the offer of free Nevirapine to more than the two sites per province, as stipulated by national government.

To see the TAC’s legal documents on the Mother-to-Child Transmission Prevention Court Case :