President blames doctors for poor AIDS drug uptake

South African President Thabo Mbeki says the country's doctors are doing little to encourage people to make use of the government's free anti-AIDS treatment programme.

He said HIV-positive people were not voluntarily seeking treatment and doctors needed to enlist them by prescribing antiretroviral drugs.

A local newspaper, Business Day, quoted Mbeki as saying: "The people are not going to bring themselves [into the programme] - I don't know what we are expected to do - the whole comprehensive programme is there."

Mbeki denied that government had promised to have 57,000 people on treatment at state-accredited health centres by the end of March this year.