Item 1399 - Address at the ceremony conferring the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights to Doctors James McIntyre and Glenda Gray, 2002

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ZA COM MR-S-1399


Address at the ceremony conferring the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights to Doctors James McIntyre and Glenda Gray, 2002


  • 2002-02-07 (Creation)

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Transcription of speech made by Mr Mandela

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(18 July 1918-5 December 2013)

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Migrated from the Nelson Mandela Speeches Database (Sep-2018).

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Awarding of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, 2002

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  • English

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The Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights was instituted in March 1992 by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation



Thank you for the opportunity to once more enjoy my annual free lunch at this time of the year. It has become part of the manner in which an old pensioner budgets after the expenses of the festive season.

There is more to be learnt about budgeting from my usual hosts, Sir Anthony O'Reilly and Independent Newspapers: this year they are passing the bill on to the Kaiser Family Foundation, I believe.

Allow me to begin by again acknowledging the honour done us by the Kaiser Family Foundation in having named this prestigious annual award after ourselves. It is ten years since the inception of the award in 1992, and the importance of emphasising attention to health and human rights has, if anything, increased over this past decade.

The recipients of this year and the work for which they have been recognised symbolise the reason for even more urgent attention to the issues of health and human rights.

We congratulate Doctors James McIntyre and Glenda Gray, founders and co-directors of the Peri-Natal Research Unit at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto. And we thank them for the work they have done and continue to do.

They are being recognised for their cutting edge research into the prevention of transmission of HIV from mothers to their new-born babies. They are specifically recognised for their internationally acclaimed contribution to the medical understanding and implementation of therapies for the prevention of mother-to-child-transmission.

The debate about some fundamental issues around HIV/AIDS unfortunately continues to rage in manners that detract attention from what needs to be our core concerns in combating the major threat to our future.

The award to Doctors McIntyre and Gray for their work emphasises the centrality of mother-to-child-transmission in HIV prevention strategies.

This we accept to be beyond argument or doubt.

Approximately 1.4 million babies are born in South Africa every year. Approximately ten thousand of these are HIV positive. An effective national mother-to-child-transmission programme could reduce the number of HIV babies each year by approximately 50%, we are reliably informed.

More than 40% of the South African population is under the age of 15 years. At the current rate of infection about 50% of these young people could become infected with HIV. The most effective way to curtail the ultimate scale of the HIV epidemic is clearly to focus on this cohort of young South Africans.

The Kaiser Foundation has been playing a vastly significant role in this regard, particularly through their support for LoveLife.

With the substantial backing of the Kaiser Family Foundation LoveLife has established itself as South Africa's major national HIV prevention programme for youth. The Kaiser Family Foundation has committed more than R700 million to this initiative and other funders, including the Gates Foundation and the South African government, have added more.

It is reported to us that early signs are that young people are responding very positively to LoveLife's messages of healthy living, self-esteem and hope.

And it is our great pleasure to announce today that we, through the Nelson Mandela Foundation, will join the Kaiser Family Foundation in support of LoveLife.

Specifically we will give our support to LoveLife's efforts to encourage more open communication between parents and their children about sex, HIV and relationships between men and women.

In addition we will support the initiation of a national corps of 18 to 25 year olds under the LoveLife programme. The role of this youth corps will be to help mobilise and organise young people across South Africa to promote healthy responsible living.

The goal towards which we will be working is to have approximately 600 young people participating in this programme annually.

These Groundbreakers, as they will be known, will be role models for their peers and younger South Africans, showing that through personal motivation and initiative it is possible to break out of the mould and to make a meaningful contribution.

The fact that such a large percentage of 18-to-25 year olds are unemployed is a major demoralising factor among young school leavers, exacerbating unhealthy sexual behaviour, crime and substance abuse among this age group.

We are confident that the Groundbreakers will be pioneers in advocating an ethos of volunteerism and public service among young South Africans.

With all of this - the work of Doctors McIntyre and Gray; the consistent support of the Kaiser Family Foundation; the work being done by the Independent Newspaper Group; the initiation of programmes as announced here today - we are saying that we need a comprehensive national partnership to tackle the greatest threat to our common future. And that we can make a difference if we have the will and the leadership.

I thank you for feeding me and listening to me.

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Acquisition method: From hard drive ; Source: Nelson Mandela Foundation Prof J Gerwel. Accessioned on 02/02/2010 by Zintle Bambata




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