Doctors support colleague under fire for dual HIV therapy

The KwaZulu-Natal doctor who faces a disciplinary hearing for giving dual-therapy drugs to babies at risk of HIV infection should be hailed as a hero, a doctors’ organisation said on Wednesday.

”To discipline him for doing his ethical duty is disgraceful,” the Southern African HIV Clinicians Society said in a statement.

Dr Colin Pfaff, who works at the rural Manguzu hospital in the north of the province, has reportedly been charged with misconduct for dispensing dual-therapy drugs for prevention of mother to child HIV transmission (PMTCT), instead of nevirapine, which is standard practice in South Africa.

The society said Pfaff and his colleagues had led the expansion of the PMTCT programme in the area using drugs purchased through a donor — at no cost to the provincial department.

”He has acted using World Health Organisation recommendations to expand the programme to make prevention more effective.

”Expanding PMTCT beyond single dose nevirapine will save thousands of infant lives a year. His actions will save many rural families the pain of the death of a child.”

The said KwaZulu-Natal’s health department’s PMTCT coverage remained shamefully low.

”That they find the time and energy to move against an effective member of their staff is woeful. … Dr Pfaff should be saluted as a hero -‒ he demonstrates the level of commitment, creativity and care for his patients that we should be demanding from all healthcare practitioners.”

The Democratic Alliance last week demanded that Minister of Health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang step in to prevent disciplinary action against Pfaff.

The party said that on January 25 the National Aids Council had approved dual therapy as policy. – Sapa

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