On behalf of the Greater Nelspruit Rape Intervention Project.
The MEC for Health, Mpumalanga, Ms Sibongile Manana, has issued an application out of the High Court Pretoria for the ejectment of GRIP from the Themba and Rob Ferreira Provincial Hospitals. The application was served on GRIP on Thursday 10 May 2001.GRIP has until 31 May to respond to the claims made by the MEC in her affidavit filed in support of the application. GRIP will be opposing the application.An offer of mediation made by the Chief Magistrate, Nelspruit, Mr David Ngobeni, to mediate the dispute, has been rejected by the MEC as have numerous requests by GRIP that the parties meet to discuss and resolve their differences. GRIP regrets the MEC's decision to engage in costly High Court litigation at a time when the Province's health services are facing a serious financial crisis.The MEC's determination to stop GRIP from providing care and free anti-Aids drugs to women and children rape survivors who are unable to afford them remains quite incomprehensible. The only insight the papers give into the MEC's reasoning is a remarkably frank admission by the MEC that her department's policy not to provide anti-retrovirals at hospitals is causing "discontent" and that "it causes problems for the department to try and explain to ordinary people what the reason is why anti-retroviral drugs are not supplied to rape survivors."That there is popular discontent is not surprising as the MEC has not given any explanation for her decision to prevent rape victims from receiving counselling and anti-retroviral drugs if these are indicated and prescribed by a doctor in order to prevent the rape victim from contracting and eventually dying of Aids. No doubt ordinary people are also struggling to understand why she has adopted this position in circumstances where the drugs are being supplied to rape survivors at no cost to the State. The MEC has even gone to the extent of prohibiting State doctors from prescribing anti-retroviral drugs to rape survivors. In doing so, she is clearly venturing into an area outside her competence.GRIP does not accept that the MEC's discomfort and embarrassment are good reasons to deny rape survivors access to life saving drugs. In her efforts to stop the supply of anti-retroviral drugs, Ms Manana displays a callous and wilful disregard for the lives of women and children rape survivors.Regrettably, Ms Manana's interventions have had the result that some women and children who have been raped and for whom anti-retroviral drugs are indicated to prevent the transmission of HIV/aids have not received this treatment because they have not been counselled and told that the drugs and available free of charge through GRIP.The Mpumalanga Health Service is in a crisis. Since Ms Manana took office, the standard of health care in the Province has been in steep decline. Hospitals and clinics are routinely without essential drugs, without laboratory testing facilities, without doctors and without electricity. Doctors and senior officials have resigned in droves and those that remain, along with many of the nursing staff and general workers, are discontented, demoralised and quite despairing. It is inconceivable that the Premier and Ms Manana's cabinet colleagues are unaware of the situation. Ms Manana is a liability and embarrassment to the Government and the people of Mpumalanga. Ms Manana should resign, failing which she should be dismissed before any more women and children rape survivors needlessly contract HIV/Aids and die.Issued by: Richard Spoor
Tel: 013 - 755 2603
on 11 May 2001On behalf ofGREATER NELSPRUIT RAPE INTERVENTION PROJECT
Ref: Barbara Kenyon