Achmat nominated for Nobel peace prize

3rd December 2003

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) reported today that it has nominated the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) and its chairperson and activist Zackie Achmat for the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize.

The AFSC is a Quaker organization, which won the 1947 Nobel Peace Prize with the British Friends Service Council on behalf of all Quakers, and can therefore can make nominations for the prize.

The TAC is built on the principle that every person has the rights to life, dignity, equality and health care and, emphasise that huge challenges lie ahead of them.

The campaign also acknowledged that gains they have made over the last five years would not have been possible without the assistance of numerous activists worldwide, including Medecins Sans Frontieres (the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize winners), the Health GAP organisations, the Consumer Project on Technology, the organisations comprising the Pan African Treatment Access Movement, the trade union movement and faith-based organisations in South Africa, its funders and the hundreds of health-care workers and scientists who have embraced the campaign.

The TAC as a movement will ultimately be judged by the implementation of successful treatment and prevention plans in South Africa and other developing countries.

TAC chairperson Zackie Achmat, who is openly HIV positive, has responded to the nomination by saying, "I am deeply honoured. The gains made by the TAC have been due to the efforts of thousands of people. It is the organisation as a whole that must be commended for the achievements thus far".

"The impact of Aids in Africa is no less destructive than that of warfare itself," said United National General Secretary Kofi Annan in a speech to the Security Council in 2000.

TAC has been described as the most vocal and visible lobby in a developing country for the rights of HIV-positive people to treatment and non-discrimination.

Through mass mobilisation, civil disobedience, legal action, extraordinary personal sacrifice, and visionary leadership, Zackie Achmat and TAC have helped to galvanise a global movement to provide hope and gain access to treatment for those with HIV/Aids.

The AFSC stated, "When treatment is available, there is a greater incentive for people to discover their HIV status through voluntary testing.

Once people know their status, they are more likely to avoid risky behavior and to seek treatment when needed.

And, perhaps most important, treatment provides hope, the most powerful antidote to the HIV/Aids-related stigma".

The efforts of Zackie and TAC have led to dramatic reductions in the price of anti-retrovirals (ARVs) and other essential drugs through voluntary price cuts by pharmaceutical manufacturers and the acceptance of generics.