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17 May 2006 Anso Thom

Health minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang used her quarterly briefing to chastise the media for lending coverage to Jacob Zumas shower comments, for reporting only on HIV/AIDS and for discounting her claims on nutrition, reports Anso Thom from the Healt

She was updating the media on progress being made by Governments social cluster in Pretoria.

The minister also revealed that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) health ministers were in the process of establishing an AIDS fund to do certain things.

She said the need had arisen as we are sometimes not successful with the Global Fund (to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria) and that the funds would be used to do certain things, not enormous things, to respond to the infection.

The minister said South Africa had also played a leading role in placing issues firmly on the agenda of United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan as he prepares for the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) at the end of this month.

Tshabalala-Msimang said a number of matters that South Africa had piloted would be discussed at UNGASS, specifically prevention and in particular the role of nutrition.

She said that issues of traditional medicine in terms of conducting research on how these remedies could boost the immune system would also be discussed.

Some of us believe in it anyway, Tshabalala-Msimang added, reporting that the Medical Research Council had initiated toxicology studies to further investigate selected indigenous plants.

She said the health department was also busy planning a national workshop on African traditional medicine.

On the hospital front, the health minister reported that provinces were currently reviewing the levels of authority delegated to hospital CEOs as well as further proposed responsibilities.

A hospital management training programme aimed at enhancing the skills of managers has commenced at the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Witwatersrand.

Tshabalala-Msimang refused to be drawn into commenting on Zumas comments that a shower could be a cure for Aids or his subsequent apology.

She accused the media of spreading confusion about how best to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, referring all question to governments prevention strategies.

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