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South African deputy President Zuma supports nutrition strategy against Aids

Deputy president Jacob Zuma has come out in support of the health minister's controversial prescription of nutritious food to fight Aids and hinted that the government is poised to provide nutrition to HIV positive people.

(Cape Times / April 3, 2003) -- Zuma said in the national assembly on Wednesday: "Good nutrition can contribute to the general wellness of persons including those with HIV/Aids.

"We believe this (providing nutrition) is an important strategy," he said.

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang said nutrition was included in the costing a government team was doing on the anti-retroviral provision.

" The reason we haven't said we will provide anti-retrovirals is because they are costly, the price is just enormous," Tshabalala-Msimang had said.

"So you have to look at what else you can do. At the same time we know that anti-retrovirals don't cure. Like nutrition, anti-retrovirals make you live longer."

Zuma was asked by former United Democratic Party MP, Lucas Mbadi, what the scientific evidence was in favour of the health minister's diet. She recently came under fire for saying foods like garlic, onions, olive oil and African potatoes could delay the onset of Aids in HIV-positive people.

Zuma replied: "A wide range of micronutrients have been scientifically identified as very effective in boosting the immune system. I am informed that the foods mentioned by the minister of health are rich in a number of these."

Zuma quoted a recent statement from the Food and Agricultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation which stated: "By bolstering the immune system and boosting energy levels, balanced nutrition can help the body fight back against the ravages of the disease."



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