Scientific American honours MSF Head of Mission for South Africa

Mandela joins MSF to scale up AIDS treatment in South Africa

MSF press release

Eric Miller/MSFEric Goemaere (foreground) explains the activities of the MSF clinic in Khayelitsha, a township in South Africa. Seated in the background is former South African president Nelson Mandela who visited the clinic on Dec 12. The clinic has over 300 AIDS patients on anti-retroviral treatment and another 3,000 being monitored.

Eric Goemaere responds to the award

'The achievements we had here are the result of a large team effort and it is in a way unfair to have one name singled out. Our success has been made possible in part because of a large international campaign to reduce ARV prices, but also because of a large campaign in South Africa by partners like TAC to create the political space to make all of this possible. Still we hope that this award will contribute to the discussion to convince the National Health authorities to opt rapidly for a nationwide HIV/AIDS treatment plan. It would then not be an achievement for 'medical diagnostic' but for promotion of democracy in a country where 4.7 millions are estimated infected by the virus' - Eric Goemaere

Scientific American 50 Award: Our first annual celebration of visionaries from the worlds of research, industry and politics whose recent accomplishments point toward a brighter technological future for everyone.

THE ADVANCE OF TECHNOLOGY depends on many heroic efforts, not all in the laboratory. Scientists and engineers extend our understanding and control of the physical world, while industrialists and corporations mobilize their own forces to make innovations available and commentators and legislators shape the policies guiding how society uses technology. This new annual roundup, the Scientific American 50, honors four dozen individuals, teams and companies - selected by the editors for their recent contribution to 12 broad categories of technological endeavor.

Join us in celebrating their bright visions of the future.

Medical Diagnostics, Policy Leader
Eric Goemaere
Head of Mission
Médecins Sans Frontières

Vision: Effective antiretroviral treatments should be available and affordable in AIDS-plagued underdeveloped countries.

The persistent Eric Goemaere fights for better AIDS treatment in South Africa. Although more than 10 percent of the country's population is infected with HIV, the government had dragged its feet on providing modern antiretroviral treatments because some officials considered the therapies too expensive and complicated.

That changed recently when Goemaere reached an agreement with the government of the Western Cape and begain a program in Khayelitsha for distributing antiretrovirals to infected pregnant women. These drugs can reduce HIV symptoms and limit transmission of the virus from mother to child.

To answer the government's objections, Goemaere imported less costly generic drugs and initiated programs to help patients take them as directed. The result: 92 percent of the mostly terminal-stage patients in the program ended up with undetectable levels of HIV. Now South Africa's government wants to make antiretroviral therapy available for mothers-to-be to protect unborn children.