Doctor cleared of misconduct

The KwaZulu-Natal health department has dropped a misconduct charge against rural doctor Colin Pfaff following a storm of protest, the doctor said yesterday.

The KwaZulu-Natal health department has dropped a misconduct charge against rural doctor Colin Pfaff following a storm of protest, the doctor said yesterday.

Pfaff faced the charge for administering dual therapy - two antiretroviral drugs - to prevent the infection of babies born to HIV-positive mothers.

At the time he was charged, official policy was that only a single drug, Nevirapine, be administered.

The decision to act against Pfaff, who works at Manguzi Hospital, met with angry reaction from the medical profession throughout the country.

On Wednesday, Pfaff was informed by Manguzi Hospital management that the charge had been dropped.

Pfaff said: "I'm relieved."

The national Department of Health has recently revised its guidelines on prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV. It now advocates dual therapy, with Nevirapine and AZT.

Announcing the guidelines last week, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang implied that the provincial health department was correct to act against Pfaff.

"We have particular protocols and guidelines on dual therapy.

"Anything done outside these guidelines is incorrect," Tshabalala-Msimang said.

The South African HIV Clinicians Society welcomed the withdrawal of the charge against Pfaff. - Sapa

X