LETTER: Ditching Israeli medicines offers SA citizens generic alternatives at a similar cost

“Apartheid Free Zone” declaration poster has been sighted at a number of Cape Town pharmacies. Picture: Supplied

“Apartheid Free Zone” declaration poster has been sighted at a number of Cape Town pharmacies. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 23, 2024


In response to: "Number of Cape pharmacies ditch Israeli medicines to become ‘Apartheid Free Zone’, Cape Argus, April 19, 2024.

SSouth African healthcare workers for Palestine would like to correct the dangerous and misleading information in the article.

In this article, Daniel Bloch, the executive director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, raises concerns that South African citizens will be asked to change their medication and put their health at risk as a result of being bullied by this campaign.

He says South Africans should be insulted that their health is being put at risk by people trying to further a political agenda. He also claims that boycotting these medications will also not do anything positive for the Palestinian people. All of these claims are completely untrue.

South Africans are not being asked to change their medications, but are merely being offered alternative generic medications at a similar cost. These generic medications are no different to their current medication, having the same active ingredient proven to have the same efficacy and safety.

Generic medications have been registered for use in South Africa by the same processes as all other medications on the South African market. The only difference, in fact, is that these medications come from a supplier that, unlike TEVA, does not support the State of Israel, their apartheid policies and by extension the Israeli military oppression of the Palestinian people.

The “Apartheid Free Zone” campaign and “Say No to TEVA” campaign will thus not disadvantage the South African public in any way.

As healthcare workers we are compelled to consider the safety and well-being of our patients as our primary priority. We would absolutely not support any action that would compromise our patients’ access to health care or disadvantage their well-being in any way.

Furthermore, businesses and pharmacists that have supported our campaign have chosen to do so on a completely voluntary basis.

Some of the pharmacists have in fact initiated this campaign in their businesses themselves, so Bloch’s allegations of “bullying” and coercion are totally false.

South African consumers are increasingly aware of where their hard earned money is being spent and want to know that their rands are not supporting unethical business practices, much like the growing consumer boycotts of companies that test products on animals or have exploitative supply chains such as in the cocoa industry.

We believe that our “Apartheid Free Zone” campaign and “Say No to TEVA” campaign empowers the consumer to request ethically made and sourced products. It is in line with best practices that are occurring in countries such as the United Kingdom, where there is also a call to avoid TEVA products.

Our support for the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign is inspired by the original movement of withdrawing support for companies and institutions that benefited from unethical business models in Apartheid South Africa.

BDS was one of the key factors that led to the eventual dismantling of apartheid in South Africa and the emancipation of all South Africans.

It is in this spirit that we are guided by the principles of human rights and equality for all, in choosing to express our solidarity with the people of Palestine and others around the world who face oppression and human rights abuses.

This campaign offers consumers a chance to join the growing global movement of peaceful protest that seeks to apply pressure on countries that do not comply with international law.

We believe that South African consumers would be proud to support such an initiative and can be reassured that their health will not ever be compromised by doing so.

* Farzana Araie, Healthcare Workers 4 Palestine (HCW4P) South Africa.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.

Cape Argus

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