South Africa President Thabo Mbeki recently fired his deputy health minister, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledgea, who is credited with ending political denial of AIDS in South Africa and leading an aggressive campaign against the country”s AIDS epidemic. Activists fear that Mbeki’s decision will have devastating consequences for the millions of South Africans who are infected with HIV.
“[Mbeki] has once again shown his contempt for those seeking scientific approaches to AIDS,” Professor Nicoli Nattrass of the University of Cape Town said of Madlala-Routledge’s dismissal, The Independent reports. “It indicates that the President still remains opposed to the science of HIV.” Mbeki’s current health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, is skeptical of antiretroviral drugs and recommends vegetables as remedy for HIV, The Independent also reports.
Mbeki fired Madlala-Routledge after reports that she was traveling to Spain without his permission to attend an AIDS conference, the International Herald Tribune. Madlala-Routledge said that she did not attend the conference and returned to South Africa after she discovered that Mbeki did not approve of her trip.