She was removed as Finance Portfolio Chairperson by Mbeki, in part for her stand on HIV/AIDS, Achmat said in a statement.
She has a reputation for being hard-working, competent and principled. Hogan's deputy, Dr Molefi Seflaro, is a medical
doctor with qualifications in tropical medicine, public health and health service management. The TAC clashed with Mbeki and
Tshabalala-Msimang on numerous occasions during their nine-year tenure, most notably during a Constitutional Court battle
that eventually compelled the health department to provide antiretroviral (ARV) drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women to
prevent mother-to-child transmission. Claiming that over two million South Africans died of AIDS during Mbeki's presidency,
Achmat said that at least 300,000 deaths could have been avoided had the President merely met the most basic constitutional
Many challenges ahead
Among many challenges now facing Hogan, according to Lesley Odendal, a researcher at the TAC, is to address the bottlenecks
hindering the scale-up of South Africa's public sector ARV treatment programme. Although we do have a large number of people
on treatment now, we still have about half a million people who need ARVs, she told IRIN/PlusNews. We still have a long way
to go. he identified tuberculosis (TB), the leading cause of natural death in South Africa and a common opportunistic
infection in people living with HIV, as one of Hogan's most urgent priorities. We need to address infection control measures
in hospitals and communities, said Odendal. We need a multi-sectoral approach, but the department of health needs to
Dr Warren Parker, executive director of the Centre for AIDS Development Research and Evaluation (CADRE), a non-profit
organisation, urged the new health minister to prioritise HIV prevention strategies beyond condom promotion and distribution.
The focus on condoms hasn't worked, he told IRIN/PlusNews. It's so apparent that people don't understand the real risks of
HIV infection. The campaigns haven't focused on the specifics enough.
Parker recommended campaigns addressing the HIV risks of concurrent sexual partnerships and early sexual debut among
teenagers. Both Parker and Odendal agreed on the urgent need for the health department to scale up prevention of
mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) services. The strategy of using dual ARV therapy to reduce infections from mother to
child was approved by the health department in January but has yet to replace less effective mono-therapy in many parts of
the country, Odendal noted.
Hopes for new leadership style
The sad thing has been so many lives lost as a product of poor strategic emphasis, including very directly through many
thousands of babies becoming infected, said Parker. The leadership orientation of the previous ministry and presidency has
been to defer issues rather than leading on them, and it has cost lives. Parker added that many of the shortcomings in the
current government response to HIV/AIDS could be turned around with more effective leadership. While acknowledging that
more than leadership was needed to address South Africa's AIDS epidemic, the largest in the world, Odendal agreed that with a
widely lauded National Strategic Framework already in place, there was plenty of room for hoping that Hogan's appointment
could mark the beginning of a more positive chapter in the country's AIDS fight.