The Community Health Programme in Khayelitsha

  1. In furtherance of its educational activities the Dr Rath Foundation chose to work closely with local communities as well as with community structures such as the South African National Civic Organization (SANCO), the National Association of People Living with AIDS (NAPWA) and the Traditional Healers Organization (THO), to name some.
  2. Doing so quickly revealed the need for the provision of nutritional support for community members affected by AIDS. In response to requests from individual community members affected by AIDS, the Foundation commenced donating some nutritional supplements referred to in the Applicants’ papers, all which are freely accessible in other countries and have been consumed by tens of thousands of people in Europe and the USA.
  3. Moreover, in response to increasing requests from community organizations, the Dr Rath Foundation prepared for a larger supply of “Vitacell,” a micronutrient formula registered with the South African Health Department and categorized as a “food stuff” according to South African law. I will deal with this aspect later in detail.
  4. The vitamins were donated to SANCO and other community organizations without any remuneration for any of the Respondents or any of the participants. We did, however, provide to the community organizations some nutritional support in form of cereals and food for certain participating community members who had no food at all.
  5. Following are some details about this community vitamin programme referred to in the Application:
    1. The South African National Civic Organization (SANCO) and its local branches were responsible for conducting this community vitamin programme.
    2. SANCO, with the assistance of the Dr Rath Foundation, formalized its efforts under a programme it called th e ‘Silondoloze’ vitamin community program.
    3. The “sites” where the participants in this community vitamin programme met were operated by SANCO. They consisted essentially of a facility with tables, chairs, and other basic equipment. The description of these “sites” by the Applicants as “clinics” is false and a deliberate distortion of the facts.
    4. Every person who decided to participate in the vitamin programme received the following documents:
      1. An information sheet explaining the details of this community health programme, detailing the following facts:
        1. the responsibility of SANCO for this programme
        2. the vitamins being donated by the Dr. Rath Foundation
        3. and other details as shown in the Annexure.
      2. A consent form for those community members who wished to participate in the micronutrient programme, detailing the following:
        1. the participants are taking part in this programme at their own will,
        2. they can stop their participation at any time and without any risk or obligation,
        3. that “this vitamin programme is not a ‘treatment’,”
        4. that no health promises have been made in connection with this programme,
        5. and other details as shown in the Annexure.
      3. A questionnaire assessing the quality of life, eating habits etc. that would make it possible to assess any changes over time.
  6. Even though I was not personally present at these sites, except for a short visit, I have personal knowledge of the following facts: During this programme SANCO was assisted by qualified nurses and doctors from the community and patients who needed medical attention were referred to a community doctor or a hospital respectively. In the few instances where blood samples were taken this was only done by qualified personnel. If pictures were taken, e.g. to visually document the significant improvements of skin lesions (e.g. Figure 7 below and in Annexure ‘ Micronutrient Programme ) it was done with the consent of the participants.

  1. In summary, what the Applicants are trying to discredit as an “unethical clinical study” was in fact a highly ethical non-profit community based nutritional health programme during which vitamins were distributed by community organizations free of charge to community members, affected by HIV and AIDS.
  2. During this entire programme the “TAC” – the very same organization that has filed this Application – was taking every measure to:
    1. publicly discredit this public health programme,
    2. discourage community members to participate in it,
    3. organize rallies in the communities against the Dr. Rath Foundation,
    4. spread rumors that vitamins would kill, deliberately hiding the fact that the only substances known to be extremely toxic are not vitamins, but ARV drugs – the very products promoted by the “TAC,”
    5. organize demonstrations in front of police stations (!) in the townships demanding that the community police stop the distribution of vitamins to its own community members,
    6. trying to seize the vitamin bottles,
    7. trying to coerce the health authorities to interfere with the distribution of life-saving vitamins
    8. and many other “activities,”
    9. all of which are part of extensive public record.
    It serves as a reminder at this point, that the financial support for the “TAC” and therefore, the financial basis for all these incomprehensible “activities” comes almost exclusively from organizations having their base in the leading export nations of pharmaceutical products.
  3. While the “TAC” has tried to legitimize this aggressive, notorious, violent – in short erratic – behaviour with the argument to protect the public from “dangerous” vitamins, the real reason for the “TAC” running amok will be understood, when considering the improvement in the wellbeing of the participants in this micronutrient programme in Khayelitsha. Apparently, the “TAC” knew that if these micronutrients programmes are established, that “ARVs” – the key merchandise promoted by the “TAC” – will no longer remain unchallenged.
  4. The results of this community vitamin programme (Annexure ‘Micronutrient Programme’) confirmed other reports, including clinical and epidemiological studies, about the beneficial role of vitamins and other micronutrients in patients with AIDS (see above). The most important findings of this micronutrient in program in Khayelitsha were:
    1. Micronutrient supplementation in people affected by AIDS was associated with a statistically significant decrease of all “AIDS defining symptoms” as classified by the WHO-Definition of Bangui , i.e.
      1. a significant decrease in fever episodes,
      2. a significant slowdown of weight loss and even weight gain,
      3. a significant decrease of diarrhoea,
      4. a significant decrease in persistent coughs,
      5. a significant decrease in the severity of tuberculosis and related symptoms.
    2. In addition to the improvement of these core symptoms with micronutrients supplementation a significant decrease in fungal and other opportunistic infections was also observed.
    3. Moreover, during the micronutrients program other AIDS-related symptoms also improved including, sores, colds, nausea, fatigue, depression, headache, skin rashes, swollen glands, joint pain and numbness in the extremities.
  5. From a scientific point of view these broad benefits of micronutrients in improving the quality of life of people affected by AIDS are not surprising. They rather confirm the essential role of micronutrients for the metabolism of billions of cells – and therefore every organ – of the human body.
  6. Moreover, AIDS is an immune deficiency disease and – as stated before – the textbooks of biology and biochemistry comprehensively document the essential role of micronutrients in achieving optimum immune function. It is long overdue that this knowledge is finally being applied to medicine and in particular in the fight against AIDS.
  7. The significance of the outcome of community vitamin programme in Khayelitsha can be summarized as follows:
    1. Micronutrients offer an effective, safe, and affordable natural health approach to hold the progression of AIDS defining symptoms and significantly improve the quality of life of people living with AIDS.
    2. Micronutrients are in many cases able to even reverse AIDS related symptoms, including ulcers (Annexure ‘Micronutrient Programme’) – an effect that has not been established for ARVs.
    3. In the absence of any cure for HIV and AIDS being currently available and with ARV drugs having the additional disadvantage of serious toxic side effects, micronutrients are an effective, and safe approach to the HIV and AIDS epidemic – until a cure is found.
    4. Micronutrient supplementation should become the basis of public health strategies in the global fight against AIDS, by national governments as well as by the WHO and other international organizations.
    5. The results of this community vitamin programme in Khayelitsha confirm the position of the South African government in making natural health approaches an integral part of its national health care policies.
  8. It is a particularly significant fact that the community vitamin programme giving rise to these results took place in a community setting in South Africa with extremely limited resources, thus establishing the programme as a basis for an effective and affordable public health strategy to combat HIV/AIDS in developing communities.
  9. In light of these documented facts, the demagoguery and erratic reactions of any organization promoting ARVs is self-explicable. The time when “ARVs” could be promoted to an unaware public as the “treatment of choice” is forever over.
  10. This analysis, of course, also allows us to place this application in the proper perspective. This entire litigation brought about by the “TAC” and the Board of the “South African Medical Association” is a “last effort” trying to protect what can no longer be sustained by scientific facts: the “monopoly” of ARVs and the multi-billion Rand investment business based on these drugs.
  11. In light of these facts the deceptive and malicious nature of some of the allegations made by the Applicants in the context of the community health programme in Khayelitsha are explicable too. Here are just a few examples:
    1. “Selling”
      1. The Applicants have consistently misrepresented the non-profit motives of our Foundation and portray me as a “salesman”, whilst knowing full well that neither I, nor the Dr Rath Foundation, “sell’ vitamins in this country, rather ‘donating’ them free of charge.
      2. By failing to qualify their description of me in this way, the Applicants have deliberately misled the public into believing that I, and the Dr Rath Foundation, are engaged in a commercial for-profit undertaking. It is a significant fact that at no point in their sworn affidavits do the Applicants openly repeat this averment under oath (for obvious reasons, because they know it to be false).
      3. However, they consistently make a suggestion in that direction, e.g. by describing me as a ”proprietor” of pharmaceutical products. The Applicants thereby perpetuate the myth engendered over the last three years and fail to draw the Honourable Court’s attention (whose presiding officer(s) may have laboured under the misrepresentation created by the First Applicant) to the true position.
      4. Insofar as the Applicants will seek to argue that the definition of “sell” in the Act also connotes “donations”, such a definition should be ruled by this Honourable Court to be unconstitutional. It is a definition which, in its Application, particularly in the context of this case, violates the rights of South African citizens benefiting from the Respondents’ donation of the vitamins, rights which are entrenched in the Bill of Rights, particularly ss 10, 11 and 27 of the Constitution No 108 of 1996.
      5. Further legal argument on this point will be advanced at the hearing of this case, and if needs be, an Application will be made to have the present definition of “sell” struck down for being violative of the Constitution
    2. “Health Facilities” / “Clinics”
      1. Another misrepresentation is the “TAC’s” persistent reference to “health facilities” in Khayelitsha as being owned by me or the Dr Rath Foundation. Again, the Applicants are fully aware that this is not the case. Neither I nor the Dr Rath Foundation own any “health facilities” in South Africa .
      2. In a similar way, t hroughout the Applicants’ papers, reference is made to the “Rath clinics’” or “health clinics” operated by me. The Applicants know that this description is false and that the “clinics” are community sites established and operated by SANCO.
      3. The participation of our Foundation is confined to holding workshops at these premises in pursuance of its educational objectives described above, and to the donation of vitamins and micronutrients distributed by SANCO under its ‘Silondoloze’ programme. The limited extent of our Foundation’s involvement in this latter activity is evident from an ‘information leaflet’ which is handed out to all participants in the programme.
      4. Whilst one of the Applicants’ witnesses, namely Xolisa Mqambeli, makes pertinent reference to this leaflet, the Applicants have failed to disclose its contents, and have instead preferred to perpetuate the myth, even to this Honourable Court, that these are our health facilities, when the leaflet plainly contradicts this contention. The Applicants’ failure to disclose the leaflet was, I submit, again calculated to mislead the Honourable Court.
      5. In the same vein, the Applicants have also failed to disclose the contents of the ‘consent form’ a number of their witnesses refer to. It too makes it plain that the programme was that of SANCO and that the Second Respondent’s role was confined to donating the vitamins distributed by SANCO.
      6. In summary, contrary to the Applicant’s allegation that the work of our foundation in the poor communities of South Africa is part of the marketing strategy involving illegal clinical studies, the truth is that we are simply donating micronutrients to the local community organizations, to help improve the health of community members affected by AIDS.
  12. In summary, the Applicants are promoting highly toxic ARV drugs to the poor communities of South Africa , which – according to the drug manufacturers own information – have no scientific proof to effectively treat HIV or AIDS. The Applicants are aware that these unethical promotion of toxic and unproven ARV drugs can only to continue under two conditions:
    1. the people of South Africa and beyond are being kept ignorant about the toxic nature and unproven effects of ARVs,
    2. the people of South Africa and beyond do not learn about effective, safe and affordable approaches to fight AIDS, including micronutrients.
  13. Both these preconditions for the continuation of the pharmaceutical investment business with AIDS are gone. The documentation of the benefits of micronutrients for people living with AIDS in the report about the community vitamin study in Khayelitshahave unmasked one of the largest frauds on the South African public ever – the false promise to cure AIDS with toxic ARV drugs that are known to damage and destroy the immune system.