The Joint Civil Society Monitoring Forum (JCSMF) today called for an immediate announcement giving the go-ahead to clinicians, facilities and provinces that have made the necessary preparations, to begin implementation of the new guidelines for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV.
"Failing this, we believe health workers in many parts of the country will see little option but to start exercising their conscience in implementing what is now overriding national consensus on the new approach to PMTCT," they said in a statement.
The statement follows Friday's national meeting of the JCSMF in Cape Town.
The meeting expressed its deep dismay at the "ongoing failure of the National Department of Health to issue the updated PMTCT guidelines, which the Director General of Health undertook to make available within two weeks of the South African National AIDS Council meeting in November 2007."
It was suggested at Friday's meeting that Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang was deliberately delaying the introduction of the new guidelines.
In December, Tshabalala-Msimang said that dual therapy for PMTCT of HIV should be implemented from the beginning of 2008.
That announcement followed months of calls from the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) for government to approve treatment protocols in line with World Health Organisation recommendations.
According to the TAC, Many pregnant women are dying avoidably from AIDS and over 60 000 children a year are being infected with HIV because the current programmes are inadequate.
The TAC has scheduled a press conference for Wednesday regarding the PMTCT guidelines.
Govt claims move on PMTCT