Updated 09 October 2020

An open letter to Thabo Mbeki by a clinical associate

Sanele Sano Ngcobo challenges former President Thabo Mbeki to admit that he was wrong on his controversial stance on HIV.

Sanele Sano Ngcobo is a clinical associate. He pens this letter to Former President Thabo Mbeki in the wake of Mbeki’s latest letter attempting to explain his stance on HIV.

Dear Honourable Thabo Mbeki,

In response to your latest letter, I would like to challenge you to admit that you took a wrong decision. Your article is indirectly denying the proven facts that antiretrovirals (ARVs) have saved lives of many South Africans.

I would like to share few ARV success stories with you.

In 2005, life expectancy in South Africa was 51 years and today it is 61 years. Zimbabwe’s life expectancy in 2000 was 44 years and today it is 60 years. Both South Africa and Zimbabwe introduced massive ARV programmes.

Due to ARVs, HIV-related deaths went down by:

58 percent in South Africa
71 percent in Ethiopia
64 percent in Thailand, and
87 percent in Senegal, all these countries started massive ARV programmes.

What more proof do we need that ARVs are saving lives of our people?

You have argued that the US pharmaceutical companies wanted to benefits from provision of ARVs, however on 19 April 2001 your government successfully protected a law allowing the domestic production of cheaper, generic medicines - including ARVs - against a lawsuit filed by transnational pharmaceutical companies.