Manto defends her dissident

Health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang says she is not interested in Robert Giraldo’s dissident views on Aids, but wants to rather tap into his expertise in the field of nutrition.

On Giraldo’s controversial view that HIV did not cause Aids, Tshabalala-Msimang said: “I’m not interested. I think we’re past that stage. Our own strategic plan is based on the premise that HIV causes Aids.

“I am only looking for expertise in nutrition.”

The minister is at the centre of yet another row over her links to Giraldo after a weekend newspaper reported that the Aids dissident would become her adviser.

Tshabalala-Msimang is facing renewed calls from opposition parties and Aids activists to resign.
Speaking on public radio on Monday, Tshabalala-Msimang said

Giraldo would not be appointed a ministerial adviser and was merely being consulted, along with a wide group of other experts. This was in line with her department’s ongoing review of its guidelines on nutrition for people living with Aids and other debilitating conditions.

“This is a continuous programme and we have not finished our exercise. If Giraldo does come to South Africa it will be a continuation of what we started already.” The guidelines were continuously under review, Tshabalala-Msimang said.

“At a meeting of (Southern African Development Community) SADC health ministers in January, we looked at guidelines and getting additional information, not from just Giraldo, not from experts from South Africa, not the conventional ones, but also the SADC member states.” Referring to newspaper headlines that Giraldo would be her adviser, she said that according to the law she was only allowed two and these positions had already been filled.

“But I’m also allowed to consult as widely as I can and it’s just one of the people we’re consulting because of his expertise in nutrition.” Giraldo was widely read in terms of nutrition and would bring expert advice, she said.

“He’s not an adviser in that context, but just interacts with our own team which is trying to improve on guidelines.” - Sapa

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