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Health Activists Honor Mandela in South Africa

“Long live Mandela, long live.”

Chants and songs honoring the late Nelson Mandela rang out from the front of the Cape Town International Convention Center today as activists from around Africa gathered to demand health for all as a human right.

The march took place at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa – the largest conference on AIDS on the continent, and coincided with International Human Rights Day and Nelson Mandela’s memorial service.

The scene was emotional as activists, technical experts, and community members remembered Mandela’s tireless work to fight for the rights of all, and reprimanded African leaders for their lack of political will to ensure all people can access health services.

“13 million people across Africa still don’t have access to the life-saving HIV medicines they need. Medicines stock-outs, corruption, mismanagement and lack of political will to deal with these problems are undermining our struggle against HIV,” said organizers, which included the World AIDS Campaign, the Treatment Action Campaign, and the AIDS and Rights Alliance of Southern Africa.

“We call on African governments to scale up their commitments to ensure access to treatment for everyone in Africa - irrespective of their ability to pay for such treatment. All National Strategic plans should include and guide a human rights based response to HIV. This is an opportunity for the international community, and all Africans, to join efforts in committing to achieving an AIDS-free Africa and Human Rights for All.”

TB Activists were also active at the march raising awareness of the need to better integrate TB and HIV services to ensure all people can easily access the treatment they need.