Last week at the Treatment Advocacy training organized by Ibase that I am attending we had a very special speaker: Vuyiseka Dubula, a South African woman who is now the General Secretary of TAC (Treatment Action Campaign).
Vuyiseka spoke of her journey from being diagnosed really young in Khayelitsha, a very poor area of Cape Town, and how joining TAC and becoming a treatment activist changed her life. She has had a baby in 2006 who is HIV negative and she is now part of the leadership of TAC, having started as a volunteer and a receptionist. You can learn more about her and other HIV positive heroes here.
Three key points from her long speech were:
1) To develop support and recognition as and advocacy group it is essential to have a campaign with clear objectives
2) A successful campaigning organization needs to have a strong grassroots foundation. It needs to provide, education, skills and support in the community. Even if the organization disappears or is exiled, the work at the grassroots level will stay and grow. This was something TAC learned from ANC (African National Congress), during the struggle against apartheid.
3) Ultimately our goal is to have en equitable health system. We want justice. We are starting by fighting for HIV medication, but it is a much larger struggle. The competition between AIDS services and primary health services is not a real issue. We are developing a better and more just health system by advocating for HIV treatment. It is all part of a larger struggle for justice and affordable and accessible health for all.
Vuyiseka will be talking on ‘Debunking Denialism an the Fight for Treatment’ at Amnesty International in London on the 11th of November at 7 pm. For more information check Amnesty International.