On this World AIDS Day, Equal Education (EE) is donating R50,000 to the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC). This is part of a global response to the financial situation TAC finds itself in.
These funds come from EE’s small reserve of funds meant to sustain EE in difficult times. In the view of the organisation’s National Council, sustaining TAC is equivalent to sustaining EE. All civil society, including EE, needs TAC.
We are writing to all of our donors and asking them to match us with a once-off donation of at least R50,000 to TAC.
We are also writing to, and speaking directly to, other social movements, civil society organisations and NGOs, and asking them to make whatever donation they can.
EE knows the difficulty of sustaining a social movement on donor funds. Firstly there are donors whose money some organisations won’t take. For example, TAC has never taken money from pharmaceutical companies or the South African government. Secondly, there are donors who seek to dictate policy or program and whose funds have to therefore be refused. Thirdly, there are stringent reporting requirements, which although important for accountability, are onerous for social movements. Fourthly, perceptions change quickly as to whether a cause or a country are worthy of support. After a decade and a half of generous support from donor organisations, TAC finds itself without funding for 2015, but its work is far from complete.
South Africa has the biggest ART programme in the world with access to internationally recommended combination therapy. Data suggests that HIV incidence rates are flattening out, and people are living longer. But according to the HSRC in 2012 there were over 1000 new HIV infections per day and 280 000 AIDS-related deaths in South Africa. And millions who need treatment are not yet receiving it: From January the threshold for starting ART is going to rise to a CD4 count of 500 (in line with WHO guidelines), which will mean that 5m people are immediately eligible for ART. Ongoing social mobilization is required to ensure that life-saving treatment reaches those who need it.
Drug resistance in HIV and TB is emerging as a serious challenge. Drug stock-outs are potentially a major factor that drives resistance in HIV. TAC remains the major force fighting against drug stock-outs. Drug resistant TB is a growing problem and a huge burden on the health care system. The cost of treating a single Multi-Drug Resistant (MDR) patient is exponentially higher than standard therapy, and we have a cure rate of less than 50%. TAC provides the largest hope for advocacy for registration and procurement of new TB drugs and supporting adherence to therapy in the community.
Much still needs to be done in regards to prevention. Effective evidence-based interventions like male circumcision and Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) have had poor uptake. TAC continues to drive in these areas.
Our schools remain places without adequate sex education or access to contraception, and with poor ventilation, which is accelerating the spread of TB. This puts young people at risk. TAC is vital to changing these realities.
Even if policy is corrected, government cannot, with the best will in the world, monitor and ensure the effective delivery in every province, district, hospital and clinic. Only an engaged, active, mobilized citizenry can do that.
Our healthcare system, like our education system, remains divided and unequal. Without a membership-based organisation like TAC that builds community power at grassroots level, we will never have the movement we need to transform the healthcare system – both public and private – into one that serves all our people equally.
EE’s Chairperson Yoliswa Dwane said, “Our first Equal Education desk was in the TAC office. TAC helped give birth to EE. Its work remains fundamental to human rights and equality. We cannot let it die.”
EE’s General Secretary Brad Brockman added: “TAC’s work is fundamental to the life-chances of EE’s membership. Health and education outcomes are connected. Equalisers and their parents sit in long queues in public health facilities. We have a duty to not only save TAC but to strengthen and grow it.”
EE’s Deputy General Secretary Doron Isaacs added: “Global inequality is increasing. There are signs that some of our country’s democratic spaces are closing or tightening. Independent civil society movements that empower poor people to hold governments and private interests accountability have never been more important to democracy and justice. TAC continues to be a beacon for that work.”
EE urges all individuals to make a personal donation to TAC today on World AIDS Day.
Link to TAC’s donation page: https://www.givengain.com/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=donate&cause_id=3434
Bank Account Details:
Name: Treatment Action Campaign
Branch code: 198765