Manto punts her 'concoction'

Johannesburg - Health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang on Thursday told an audience in Zondi, Soweto, that she would keep punting what the media have described as her "concoction", no matter how much journalists laughed at her and cartoonists lampooned her.

Extolling the virtues of lemon, ginger, olive oil, garlic and beetroot, the minister added that she was not saying medicines did not work - just that medicines on an empty stomach was pointless.

In addition, the produce mentioned contained many of the active ingredients found in expensive medication.

"We should eat garlic because of its antibacterial and anti-fungal properties, lemon because of Vitamin C and olive oil as a source of Vitamins A and E... It is good stuff... Don't let people deceive you."

Basic nutrition

She said she had herself in Durban seen people crippled by Aids-related complications regain the ability to walk and at Klerksdorp had seen two woman regain their sight.

"The relationship between HIV and Aids and poor nutrition is (now) acknowledged internationally. Executive director of the World Food Programme, James Morris, said about a month ago: 'As a minimum first step, we must ensure that those living with HIV and Aids receive basic nutrition that enables them to survive and care for their families as long as possible... What has now become clear to us at the World Food Programme is that food is the first line of defence against HIV and Aids'," she said.

"Providing nutrition does not just end up with raw food but goes beyond to how the food is also prepared. Efforts have to be made that the food is cooked properly to preserve nutrients," Tshabalala-Msimang added.

She said the bulk of staple food eaten by South Africans, namely bread and mealie meal, was not very nutritious to start with. What little nutrition remained was often lost in preparing it for the table.

Traditional medicine

For that reason, flour and meal would from October be fortified as a matter of course during milling, the minister said.

Tshabalala-Msimang also, in a series of off-the-cuff at the Molofo home-based care centre, also said she would launch an institute for traditional medicine on August 31.

"Let's take traditional medicine out from under the table and put it on the table. Let us see what is quality and what's not. That's why I'm launching the institute."

The minister further urged a correction in vocabulary saying the combination of HIV and Aids with a slash, as in HIV/Aids, was needlessly driving people into a state of fear.

"After all, we don't speak about diabetes slash gangrene, yet it is known that in some cases diabetes leads to gangrene."

HIV and Aids were two separate things.

A Southern African Development Community meeting at the weekend had therefor decided to rather start using the combination "HIV and Aids", she said.

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