Mbeki’s AIDS denialism continues?
Thabo Mbeki, president of South Africa, has recently fired his deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge. Reputed for his AIDS denialist past, Mbeki has received a great deal of criticism domestically and from abroad over the dismissal of Madlala-Routledge, including an editorial in the New York Times, and an opinion piece written by former UN special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa Stephen Lewis for South African newspapers.
Madlala-Routledge was widely credited for her work leading the Health Ministry’s campaign against HIV/AIDS while her boss – Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, the infamous health minister – was ill. Madlala-Routledge reportedly was fired for taking an unapproved trip to an AIDS conference in Spain at government expense.
The dismissal of Madlala-Routledge is a step back in South Africa’s fight against HIV/AIDS. The country has great resources at its disposal to fight the disease, as well as a strong advocacy campaign to do so. However, the lack of political will among the country’s leadership has long been the deterrent to mounting a successful intervention against the disease.