ldd header

Forum contributions

FORUM CONTRIBUTION: South African court rules on the state's obligation to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV

In Treatment Action Campaign and Others v Minister of Health and Others 2002 (4) BCLR 356 (T) the Pretoria High Court found in favour of the Treatment Action Campaign and others and against the Minister of Health on the issue of mother-to-child HIV transmission. The steps taken by the state in this regard, it was held, were not in compliance with its duty to take reasonable measures to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to access to health care services.

On appeal, the Constitutional Court in Minister of Health and Others v Treatment Action Campaign and Others (1) 2002 (10) BCLR 1033 (CC) similarly found that existing state policy fell short of the constitutional standard and ordered the state to ôdevise and implement within its available resources a comprehensive and co-ordinated programme to realise progressively the rights of pregnant women and their newborn children to have access to health services to combat mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Geoff Budlender, who acted as attorney for the applicants in the High Court and subsequently in the Constitutional Court, provides a brief comment on the context and controversies surrounding the justiciability of socio-economic rights.

pdfDownload full text.