International media note minister’s passing

2009-12-17 13:49

THE passing of former health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has

gone unlamented by those international media that reported on it.

The New York Times said on its website that she drew international

censure for questioning the causal connection between HIV and Aids and for

“promoting dietary measures rather than drugs to treat Aids”.

“While Dr Tshabalala-Msimang was health minister, the estimated

number of HIV-infected people in South Africa climbed to more than five million,

more than in any other nation,” the website read.

The Los Angeles Times said the late minister’s “Aids denial” and

failure to provide treatment had been blamed for more than 300?000 unnecessary


It recalled that her advice to sufferers to use a concoction of

fruits, vegetables and herbs instead of antiretroviral (ARV) drugs had won her

international derision as “Dr Beetroot” or “Dr Garlic”.

The British Telegraph said Tshabalala-Msimang and former president

Thabo Mbeki bore “key responsibility” for government’s delaying for years the

distribution of ARVs.

“Their stance has now been repudiated by (President) Jacob Zuma’s

new government, but its legacy will endure for decades,” the Telegraph said. It

recorded one comment on a presumably South African newspaper website.

“There’ll be 300?000 unhappy people waiting to have a little talk

with her,” the comment read.

The BBC also recalled her “Dr Beetroot” tag, saying she had

maintained that ARVs were too expensive and had possible harmful side-effects.

It also cited the figure of 300?000 deaths, drawn from a Harvard University


The former health minister died in Johannesburg yesterday.

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