Is there a price for life? If so what is it? The issue here concerns South Africa’s growing HIV/AIDS patients. The world non-the-less isn’t doing much about the situation that only seems to be getting worse. South Africa already has the highest growing HIV/AIDS rate in the world. The pharmaceutical companies offered very little medical donations or help; they ended up doing quite the opposite. When South Africa attempted to import generic versions of the needed HIV/AIDS drugs because of their drastically cheaper prices the pharmaceutical companies replied by taking them to court.
How is this fair? Is this the price the poor, developing nations have to pay because their system abides with international laws and regulations? South Africa’s manufacturing or importing of generic AIDS treatment drugs is illegal, non the less it’s primary motivation is the protect it’s own people from a disease threatening to it’s population not because it was pursuing profit. HIV/AIDS infection rate in South Africa is the highest in the world and thus a serious problem. The United Nations reports an estimated 7.
5 million HIV/AIDS patients by the year 2010 in South Africa. This number is so huge it portrays the scale of the problem. In another study published by “Women’s International Network News” performed by non-governmental organizations estimates that fifteen percent of Adults aged 20 to 64 are now infected with the deadly virus. Statistics lead scientists to fear the worst with up to 25 percent of women being diagnosed as HIV-positive, and nearly 30 percent of women giving birth are diagnosed with the deadly virus (Nicolo,Itano).
The worst predictions fear that up to 800,000 South Africans could die of AIDS alone in the year 2010. The future of South Africa is not bright at all but rather plagued with problems caused by the deadly virus. South Africa needs the HIV/AIDS treatment because of both the scale of the infections and the highly unreasonable prices of the drugs. The virus plagues the whole population without exception with an estimated 5 million infected yet very little is done to help this impoverished nation (CW, Henderson).
The whole continent as a matter of fact is ravaged by the disease simply because developing countries can only afford to spend 4-5 dollars a year on health care. Brand name pharmaceutical companies fully aware of these figures have dropped their treatment fees from $ 15,000 to $ 1,000 a year non-the-less they are still 200 times more money than is available for health. When South Africa decided that the only solution to its problem was generic alternatives, drug companies sued the government of South Africa. The problem remains: Neither the government nor the people can afford the costs of the treatment.
The pharmaceutical companies are left with two choices the first is to let these people live by allowing them to import the generic drugs or leave them alone because they will never get more than 4-5 dollars a year per patient from South Africa. HIV/AIDS drug manufacturers refuse to allow this rather simple and developing nation to import generic versions of the needed drugs to save lives, yet a little child with the slightest knowledge of basic math can figure out that South Africa will never afford to pay for the treatment of the virus.
Drug manufacturers fully realizing this tried to sell the treatment for the full price to South Africa a few years back which didn’t work ($1000/year). Latter on a special tariff was made for South Africa with prices reduced from 50-70 percent, yet it remained too high for the majority of the population (Patent Problem Pending). A much needed drug that lowers the chances of mother to child transmission of the virus called Fluconzole costs $4. 10 in South Africa as apposed to the cheaper generic alternative costing $0. 30, almost 40 times cheaper and just as efficient.
Another important drug that slows down HIV/AIDS is Stavudine which costs $2. 50 in South Africa as apposed to the cheaper generic alternative costing $0. 30, almost 16 times cheaper (Carol, Ezzel). South Africa simply can’t afford these expensive drugs to treat its population, the drug companies highly aware of this simply stand there and does nothing as innocent people die as others only strive towards the pursuit of profit. Cheap generic alternatives are the only available choice for a nation such as South Africa because they can afford no other treatment.
This is defiantly not the time to squabble over patent laws and regulations with such large number of people dying every day. The argument is really not against the drug companies but rather at them failing to make sense with their campaign against South Africa. The pharmaceutical players’ total sale to Africa and Asia is only 4. 9 % of their total profit. Will this 4. 9 percent tip the scales even and make billions for the pharmaceutical companies? (Gregg, Bordowitz) probably not, I feel it to be extremely unethical to actually make a profit of a population that barely has enough money to feed and cloth itself.
The pharmaceutical giants have the right to the demands that they made towards South Africa yet they shouldn’t expect any positive response from a starving nation. It is absurd how we humans lost our humanity, sympathy for each others and for our selves. South Africa’s AIDS problem as well as the people’s ignorance towards the nature of the disease has lead to many undesired behaviors and misconceptions partially due to lack of education and availability of medicine.
South Africa desperately needs AIDS awareness programs since lack of education and disease have isolated it from the world we live in. A 20 year old infected women living in the impoverished town of Kayamandi outside Cape Town tells her tragic and moving story of her son dieing of AIDS, she was admitted to hospital with tuberculosis, they told her that she had AIDS and there was no treatment not even vitamins, she was sent home to die. Koro believes that her dignity and life given to her by the constitution are being robbed away (Adele, Baleta).
Koro is lucky, reports confirm that a 25-year-old women in Soweto had been found shot through the head with a note on a brown-paper bag “HIV Positive AIDS”, this is unfortunately not the first incident (Carol, Ezzell). In another case Nora Motshelanoka a 4 ? month pregnant lady, diagnosed as HIV positive is very alone, very afraid that anyone would know her HIV-status because she fears the safety of herself and her child (Nicole, Itano). Ignorance has reached the level where some men believe that having sex with a young child will actually cure the disease.
If AIDS treatment isn’t available in any means, then the civilized international community must do something. Standing still and watching the pharmaceutical companies extort a nation out of its wealth (if there is any) is truly a shame as moral values, lack of education and ignorance lead the daily lives of these people. Another question that must be raised is that of equality, have the procedures that are being taken against the government of South Africa been taken against other governments when they committed or intended to commit the same offenses?
I don’t believe so: A recent example took place when the Canadian health minister, petrified by the anthrax attacks South of the United States of America went ahead and commissioned a million doses of generic ciprofloxacin. The legality of the action was wrong with no eminent threat directed at Canada at the first place, also Bayer claimed it was able to supply the manufactured quantity, and there was no state of national emergency to break the rules and procedures that normally apply. In short the action couldn’t have been more illogical let alone illegal.
The world non the less stood in silence, as Bayer made them pay for the pills and donated millions more free dozes to the Canadian government instead of taking them to court. In the same time when South Africa’s population is withering out, with almost a thousand deaths a day they are not allowed to produce generic versions of life saving drugs. Where is the comparison? Or is it that Canadian lives are worth more than those of Africans? (A War Over Drugs and Patents). The two situations can’t simply be compared without one wondering how unfair the world has become.
South Africa did no wrong when it attempted to import generic AIDS treatments; it was simply trying to protect itself from damage similar to that of September 11 occurring once every three days (aprox. 800 deaths/day). The United States of America would’ve done anything to have stopped the disastrous effects of September 11. Even though South Africa’s economic status doesn’t allow it to treat its sick population, this doesn’t mean that their lives are expendable or worthless. In the world that we live in today having a diseased area isn’t such a good idea.
Sooner or latter it will creep on you from your back and attack you when it becomes a source for more HIV/AIDS infections. Blocking HIV treatment drugs is dangerous for both South Africa and the population of the world. Disease can change the moral values of many people when they feel that their lives are of no importance and that their death is eminent. Disease creates anger, hate, and rage. In Zimbabwe (bordering South Africa), a country with the 3rd highest HIV/AIDS rate, some very tragic even took place.
An HIV infected man drew blood from himself, kept it in a needle and went to the movies and positioned it so that the next person to sit down would get his blood. The next person was a South African engineering student, top of his class; after he felt the prick he read the following note: “Welcome to the real world, you’ve been infected”. Is this the world that we want to live in? As much blame as I have for the perpetrator that wasted an innocent, successful life, I pity him for what he had to do.
It is understandable that drug companies need to make money, but their profit revenue in minute compared to the efforts they are putting in Africa. South Africa’s importation of generic AIDS treatment drugs should take place to save this country from going to shambles, destruction, ignorance. Common sense would urge owners of drug companies as human beings with minds, hearts, and souls to allow the treatments of HIV drugs via generic importation or donations to 3rd world countries such as South Africa.
It is immoral to sit there and watch a population loose men, women, children to an invisible predator that can be held back. The HIV virus has had huge social consequences on South Africa, created so much misconception, pain and anger towards the west and infected individuals. As much as it is an advantage for our world to be as globalize as it is, it carries a moral disadvantage. Unfortunately life in its own has a price, apparently the western medical giants have control over the lives of hundred of thousands sick people every year.
The result of such control is defiantly a negative one since it has wrecked social order in South Africa. South Africa deserves the right to protect herself against all evils, HIV/AIDS being one of them giving it liberty to take whatever action is needed.
Works Cited Achmat, Zackie. “Most South Africans Cannot Afford Anti-HIV Drugs. ” British Medical Journal 324 (01/26/2002): 217. Academic Search Elite. Online. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002. “A War Over Drugs and Patents. ” Economist 358 (03/10/2001): 43. Academic Search Elite. Online.
EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002. Baleta, Adele. “Firms Take South Africa’s Government To Court. ” Lancet 357 (03/10/2001): 775. Academic Search Elite. Online. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002. Golden, Fredric. “Cut-Rate AIDS. ” Time 157 (03/19/2001): 68. Academic Search Elite. Online. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002. Henderson, CW. “South Africa Cautions About AIDS Drug Offer. ” World Disease Weekly (05/28/2000): 17. Academic Search Elite. Online. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002. Henderson, CW. “With Cheaper AIDS Drugs, Help Out Of Reach For Most Africans.
” AIDS Weekly (05/22/2000): 19. Academic Search Elite. Online. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002. “HIV/AIDS: South Africa Cases Could Total 7. 5 Million by 2010. ” Women’s International Network News 27 (Autumn 2001): 26. Academic Search Elite. Online. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002. Itano, Nicole. “S. Africa Faces Suit Over Cheap AIDS Drug. ” Christian Science Monitor (8/2/2001): 6. Academic Search Elite. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002 “Patent Problem Pending. ” Economics 361 (10/27/2001): 14. Academic Search Elite. Online. EBSCOhost. 13 April 2002.