tac call to fire doctor

THE Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) in Mpumalanga is calling on the provincial health department to intervene in the case in which a doctor in Tonga is denying foreign nationals antiretroviral drugs.

The doctor is allegedly refusing to give foreign nationals the ARV drugs because they are not in possession of South African identity books. The area has a high number of Swazis and Mozambicans.

TAC provincial spokesperson Thandi Maluka said they were planning to call a meeting at which all NGOs would express their views on the matter.

"We also expect the department of health to take part in the meeting. We will take all the necessary steps to make sure that the Tonga Hospital takes the necessary steps against the doctor," Maluka said.

"In this country we don't have a law that compels HIV victims to produce their ID documents in order to get ARVs."

It has transpired that the doctor is employed by a non-profit organisation, the Right to Care, but is attached to the Tonga Hospital.

When approached for comment, Right to Care human resources manager Abby Mkhabela confirmed that a letter of complaint had been sent to their organisation demanding the removal of the doctor.

But he refused to comment further, claiming that the hospital must take a decision about the doctor in question. He also confirmed that the doctor was still employed by the organisation.

Nkomazi municipality HIV-Aids manager Emma Mahlalela told Sowetan that she was aware of the complaint against the doctor.

She said a departmental investigation had revealed that one of the patients, who allegedly started using ARVs in late 2008, was refused ARVs last October.

"It is dangerous to take the ARVs and stop along the way. But we have managed to help the patient and she has started taking the drugs again," Mahlalela said.

Department of health spokesperson Mpho Gabashane said all HIV-Aids victims should get ARVs.