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Health for all now, demand marchers

Date: 
9 Sep 2007

Community organisations, trade unions and religious groups on Saturday banded together to try to force the government to improve the poor state of South Africa's health system.

Sporting placards reading "SA Health Crisis is bigger than Manto vs Routledge", "Public Health before Private Wealth" and "Health for all NOW", hundreds of people marched through Site C, Khayelitsha, to mark the launch of the People's Health Movement's Right to Health Campaign.

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The posters referred to the rows involving Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, the former deputy health minister, who was axed by President Thabo Mbeki after an abortive trip to Spain in August, and Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, accused in media reports of drinking immoderately and of being convicted for stealing a patient's watch while she was superintendent at a Botswana hospital.

The People's Health Movement, consisting of local organisations including the Treatment Action Campaign, The Girl Child Organisation, Cosatu, the South African Democratic Nurses' Union and community churches, is a global movement aimed at ensuring that every human's health becomes a political priority.

The movement is a broad coalition of individuals and organisations mobilising grassroots support for an international right to health and proper health care.

Leslie London, head of family health at the University of Cape Town and one of the movement's organisers, said the movement aimed to change current approaches to health and development in poorer countries.

"This is not just an organisation, it's a network. The movement is a united front to fight the government for proper health-care facilities, proper medication, more staff at health-care facilities and a healthier living environment."

London said South Africa needed a "strong, local and independent" civil group to hold the government accountable for their actions.

"There are policies in place, but they are nothing if we don't understand them and if they are not implemented correctly," he said.

(This article was originally published on page 4 of The Cape Argus on September 09, 2007)

Author/Source: 
Clayton Barnes
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