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Notorious for HIV doubts, South Africa's 'Dr. Garlic' dies

JOHANNESBURG — Former South Africa health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who gained notoriety for her dogged promotion of lemons, garlic and olive oil to treat AIDS, has died. She was 69.

The ruling African National Congress said Dr. Tshabalala-Msimang died in a hospital Wednesday from complications related to a 2007 liver transplant.

Her disastrous HIV policies during her nine years in office made her the most unpopular government minister in post-apartheid South Africa. She was widely ridiculed and nicknamed "Dr. Beetroot" — another one of her suggested AIDS remedies — and "Dr. Garlic."

She was responsible, however, for some advances. She improved basic services in rural areas, forced down the price of medicine, tried to stem the exodus of doctors and nurses to rich countries and was one of the driving forces behind a global anti-tobacco treaty. A former anti-apartheid activist, she spent nearly 30 years in exile.

She had a loyal defender in her close friend, former President Thabo Mbeki, partly because of his own doubts about the link between HIV and AIDS. She was replaced in 2008 after Mbeki was ousted by the ANC.

She and Mbeki have been blamed for not preventing over 300,000 deaths, according to a Harvard University study.

Notorious for HIV doubts, South Africa's 'Dr. Garlic' dies 12/16/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 9:07pm]

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