Aids conference 'to take decision on doctor'

A MPUMALANGA doctor's refusal to give antiretrovirals to foreign nationals because they did not have South African IDs has led to a three-day conference.

A MPUMALANGA doctor's refusal to give antiretrovirals to foreign nationals because they did not have South African IDs has led to a three-day conference.

The conference involves the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), a non-profit organisation (NGO) fighting for the rights of people with HIV-Aids, and a number of councils in the Ehlanzeni district municipality.

The conference is being held at the Florida Hotel in Sabie near White River.

South Africa does not have a law that compels people with HIV-Aids to produce IDs in order to get ARVs.

Nkomazi municipality HIV-Aids manager Emma Mahlalela said yesterday: "The doctor issue is going to be one of the most critical. I hope that after the conference a decision will be taken concerning this evil doctor."

TAC provincial spokesperson Thandi Maluka said: "This province is in dire need of doctors. We decided not to call for the removal of the doctor who refused patients ARVs. We suggest he be given a warning."

The doctor is employed by an NGO, the Right to Care, but is attached to Tonga Hospital.

When approached for comment the 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 Mkhabela refused to comment further, claiming that the hospital must take a decision concerning the doctor in question. He also confirmed that the doctor was still employed by the organisation.

An investigation conducted by the Inkomazi municipality revealed that one of the patients, who allegedly started using ARVs in late 2008, was refused ARVs last October.

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

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