Madiba visits Aids clinic
13 December 2002
Cape Town - Former president Nelson Mandela received a rapturous welcome on Thursday when he visited a pioneering antiretroviral (ARV) treatment facility at Khayelitsha on the outskirts of Cape Town. Khayelitsha is a poverty-stricken settlement of about half-a-million people, and the international humanitarian organisation Medecins Sans Frontieres has partnered Aids treatment clinics at three health facilities there with the Western Cape health department. Mandela toured the Nolungile Community Health Centre in Site C, greeting patients and staff, and inspecting facilities, as a crowd of followers chanted "Nelson Mandela, Nelson Mandela". He chatted to HIV-positive Kholiswa Ramncwana (25), who showed him her packet of antiretroviral medication, with tablets marked for each day of the week. "I told him I want all people to have these antiretrovirals free of charge so they can live a long time," she said afterwards. "A lot of people are dying and these drugs are too expensive ... he said he will try everybody to get this." Western Cape deputy director of health, Dr Fareed Abdullah, said Mandela's presence was recognition of Khayelitsha's importance in the context of providing ARVs in South Africa. "Fifty-two percent of South Africans live in peri-urban settlements like Khayelitsha. If we can do it here, it's a big sign that we can do it in other parts of the country," Abdullah said. The government, which has been under fire for its reluctance to provide ARVs for treatment, recently mandated the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to look at the issue.