It was with great consternation that South Africans, especially AIDS activists, read about the behavior last week of their health minister, Dr. Manto Tshabalala-Msimang [referred to by critics as "Dr. Beetroot"], at the 16th International AIDS Conference in Toronto. The conference welcomed 20,000 delegates from over 100 countries and featured such prominent philanthropic figures as Bill Gates and Bill Clinton. Many nations and NGOs had displays at the conference, and what made headlines here in South Africa was the country's exhibition adorned with beetroot, lemons, and garlic--a combination that Tshabalala-Msimang has long endorsed as an "alternative" AIDS cocktail to the antiretroviral drugs developed in the West. When media attention focused on the display, flaks from the South African Health Ministry hastily added a few pill bottles in an attempt to damp the tide of criticism. Yet news of this blunder did not seem to surprise many people back in Johannesburg. They have grown used to their government's crackpot AIDS theories.Kudos though to Stephen Lewis for saying in his closing remarks that the South African government's laziness on AIDS was "wrong, immoral and indefensible" and that "its HIV-denialist theories and promotion of alternative treatments are more worthy of a lunatic fringe than a concerned and compassionate state."
Saturday, August 26, 2006
This article in the Weekly Standard caught my eye, and although it's a little late to be piling on to the discussion of the recent AIDS conference in Toronto, why was the media so preoccupied with Stephen Harper's no-show when this was going on?