MEC’s olive branch to Blaylock backers

2008-05-21 00:00

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni is still to release the report of an inquiry she commissioned into allegations of racism made against the Manguzi doctor Mark Blaylock, who earlier threw her photograph into the bin.

However, by yesterday she had extended an olive branch to two organisations that have supported Blaylock and his colleague, Dr Colin Pfaff, who raised donor funding to buy the anti-retroviral drug AZT for pregnant women.

Members of the KZN government, including Nkonyeni, met yesterday with representatives of the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa (Rudasa). A joint statement said they met to try and iron out differences and miscommunication on issues surrounding the Manguzi doctors.

The statement said: “The provincial government appreciates the opening of lines of communication and reiterates its support of rural doctors and the good work they do under difficult conditions.”

It added that TAC and Rudasa agreed to be involved in further discussions on issues affecting their members and to work on a timetable that will set out a programme of action to enhance health care in the province.

According to reports at the time of the incident, it was a statement made by the Nkonyeni disparaging rural doctors as caring more about profit than patients that prompted Blaylock to throw the MEC’s photograph in the bin.

Nkonyeni went on to attack the doctor as a racist in her budget speech. She then set up a five-person task team to investigate allegations of racism made against Blaylock and Pfaff.

The team visited Manguzi and questioned staff as well as the doctors themselves.

The Aids Law Project (ALP) questioned the impartiality of the task team when it was appointed, saying it included an employee of the Health Department “who is alleged to have assisted the MEC in drafting her budget speech”.

The findings of the task team are expected to be released this week.

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