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Minister of Health v. Treatment Action Campaign

2002 (5) SA 721 (CC) (2002)

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Minister of Health v. Treatment Action Campaign

South Africa Constitutional Court

2002 (5) SA 721 (CC) (2002)

Facts

In 2000 the South African government declared that curbing the HIV/AIDS pandemic was a top priority for the country. The government entered a deal with the pharmaceutical company that manufactured Nevirapine, a drug that reduced mother-to-child HIV transmission. The pharmaceutical company agreed to provide the government with the drug at no cost for five years. The government implemented pilot programs at various sites to study the benefits of Nevirapine. However, the government refused to make Nevirapine available in the public health sectors, which resulted in individuals of lower socioeconomic status being unable to access Nevirapine. In response, the Treatment Action Campaign and other public health organizations (collectively, TAC) (plaintiffs) filed an action in the South Africa High Court in Pretoria against the minister of health and other government entities (collectively, the government) (defendant). TAC claimed that the government’s unreasonable actions of restricting the accessibility of Nevirapine and failing to create a comprehensive treatment program for all individuals violated the South African Constitution. The court found that the government had violated the constitution and returned a verdict in TAC’s favor. The matter was appealed to the South Africa Constitutional Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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