2005-10-26-SA denies rift with UN Aids envoy

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2005-10-26-SA denies rift with UN Aids envoy

 

South Africa's health department has denied there is a ban on the United Nations special envoy on HIV-Aids visiting the country.

Stephen Lewis wrote of a "breach" after he criticised South African policy.

In a new book, he wrote that South Africa's heath minister had said he should not visit the country until he apologised for remarks he made.

Six million of South Africa's 45m people are infected with HIV, according to the health department.

Mr Lewis wrote that "every senior UN official, engaged directly or indirectly in the struggle against Aids, to whom I have spoken about South Africa, is completely bewildered by the policies of President Mbeki."

He wrote that Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had invited him to visit South Africa "and realise how little he knows about the South African health system".

However, the minister had later written a letter to him "bristling with accusations, and said I could not come to South Africa until I had apologised to many individuals and groups, the president and herself included".

Interaction

South Africa's health department issued a statement rejecting Mr Lewis's claims of a rift between the UN and the department, after his book was quoted in an article in the New York Times on Tuesday.

"There are clear channels of interaction between South Africa and various UN agencies and none of the UN employees are banned from carrying out their duties in this country."

The department said it was committed to "continue working together with various UN agencies in a global response to HIV and Aids".

The health department statement also noted that the UN had commended South Africa for its efforts to combat HIV-Aids.

"In the latest report to the UN General Assembly Special Session on Aids, the Secretary General of the UN Kofi Annan singled out and commended South Africa for tripling its resource allocation for HIV and Aids programmes since the adoption of the UN Declaration of Commitment on HIV and Aids in 2001," the statement said.

 


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