South Africa's controversial health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang who has been dubbed 'Dr. No' for her stance against AIDS drugs is reportedly admitted in hospital; for a lung condition.
The minister had earned the ire of AIDS activists round the world for reacting sluggishly to South Africa's escalating AIDS problems.
AdvertisementShe has favored natural therapies such as beetroot and garlic in combating AIDS, over antiretroviral drugs used all over the world.
South Africa has one of the world's worst HIV/AIDS epidemics,with an estimated five million of its 45 million people infected and up to 1,000 AIDS-related deaths every day.
The 'rainbow' nation's president Dr. Thabo Mbeki has placed in her behalf the Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Deputy Health Minister Nozizwe Madlala. They have taken lead in AIDS policy, delighting activists and scientists who had long seen Tshabalala-Msimang as an obstacle.
Tshabalala-Msimang hit world headlines in August when she led South Africa's delegation to the world AIDS conference in Canada and came under attack by scientists and United Nations officials for promoting "natural" remedies such as garlic and beetroot for AIDS patients.
She publicly questioned the safety and effectiveness of conventional AIDS treatments like antiretrovirals and drugs that hinder the transmission of HIV from pregnant women to their unborn children.
The health ministry began providing HIV drugs to pregnant women only after the Constitutional Court ordered that the drugs be made available.
The ministry's critics charge that South Africa also delayed the rollout of antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive adults, despite having one of the highest HIV-positive populations of any country.
The minister has been admitted for severe anemia and residual pleural effusion (fluid in the lining of the lungs) and her hospitalization follows weeks of incapacitated behavior such as incoherence, disorientation, difficulty understanding questions etc. during various meetings.
Since protests against the minister heightened, South Africa had begun an extensive rollout of antiretrovirals, and Tshabalala-Msimang softened her warnings against the drugs. But she has continued to support unorthodox treatments such as garlic and lemons.