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Access to Medicines and the Transformation of the South African State: Exploring the Interactions of Legal and Policy Changes in Health, Intellectual Property, Trade, and Competition Law in the Context of South Africa's HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Item

Title

Access to Medicines and the Transformation of the South African State: Exploring the Interactions of Legal and Policy Changes in Health, Intellectual Property, Trade, and Competition Law in the Context of South Africa's HIV/AIDS Pandemic

Creator

Date

2012

Published In

Volume

37

Bibliographic Citation

37 Law & Social Inquiry 297 (2012)

Abstract

Access to essential medicines remains highly contested around the globe and a vital
issue in South Africa. At the same time, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the demand for
medical services are having important political and social consequences in a society heavily
impacted by the pandemic. Legal and institutional changes within the postapartheid state
in South Africa are in part a reflection of the interaction of opportunities and constraints
both within and across the country's geographical boundaries. The transformation of state
institutions in this context has been set in motion and shaped by different policy imperatives:
from demands for medical care to the promotion of economic competition and the
need to implement international trade commitments, including specific levels of intellectual
property protection. Despite a strong commitment to social change, to address the
legacies of apartheid, as well as the relative strength and political will of the dominant
political party, the African National Congress, the transformation of a number of state
institutions was significantly framed by the global environment in which the country found
itself. In the context of South Africa's democratic transition and the devastating HIV/
AIDS pandemic, the state responded to a range of shifting opportunities and constraints,
whether real or perceived. As a result, impetus was given to different policies and
competing political and economic factions, enabling particular institutions and rules to be
embraced, created, reshaped, or simply foregone.