The role of civil society in health policy making in South Africa: a review of the strategies adopted by the Treatment Action Campaign
The diagnosis of AIDS in 1982 in South Africa was followed by a rapid rise in the number of people living with the virus and dying from AIDS-related illnesses. The 2016 report by the Statistics South Africa indicated that about 7.03 million South Africans were infected with HIV/AIDS — the highest rate in the world. Despite the emergence of effective drugs in the mid-1990s, medical treatment remained unavailable in South Africa, particularly in public hospitals. This prompted civil society groups to establish platforms to discuss health policy change in South Africa. Prominent among these was the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), formed in 1998, which aimed to advocate for improved HIV/AIDS health service delivery. The efforts succeeded in shaping the current HIV/AIDS policy through various initiatives such as the use of constitutional law in legal action against profiteering drug companies. This paper examines the role of civil society, and particularly the TAC engagement with the state in health policy making, and the subsequent implementation of health policy on HIV/AIDS in post-apartheid South Africa.
Keywords: access to ARV drugs, advocacy activities, Government AIDS denialism, HIV/AIDS in South Africa, human rights