Health in 2021: Another tumultuous year in under a thousand words

Health in 2021: Another tumultuous year in under a thousand words

It wasn’t rocket science when we predicted at the start of 2021 that South Africa’s biggest challenge this year would be to get COVID-19 shots into as many arms as possible. But the way it has played out with multiple setbacks and scrambling problem-solving is not something anyone could have predicted. In fewer than a thousand words, Spotlight editor Marcus Low takes a look back at a tumultuous year in health in South Africa.

Read More

Report raises concern over child nutrition in rural Eastern Cape

Report raises concern over child nutrition in rural Eastern Cape

Findings from a study conducted in Mqanduli in the Eastern Cape show the prevalence of stunting among children younger than five for that area was 24%. Luvuyo Mehlwana unpacks the findings and the plans the provincial health department has in place to address the risk factors driving stunting among children in the Eastern Cape.

Read More

Experts urge registration of new child-friendly ARV formulation

Experts urge registration of new child-friendly ARV formulation

Children living with HIV have to take multiple different antiretroviral pills or syrups twice a day, while most adults in South Africa have been offered one pill once a day regimens for around a decade. At the recent South African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHCS) conference, various speakers argued that better treatment regimens for kids are needed urgently. Thabo Molelekwa reports.

Read More

In-depth: Mental health needs of children falling through the cracks, experts say

In-depth: Mental health needs of children falling through the cracks, experts say

Globally it is estimated that around one in five to one in ten children and adolescents are affected by mental health disorders. In South Africa, the numbers are highly uncertain, particularly at provincial level, where hardly any data is being gathered. Research suggests that a lack of intersectoral collaboration has resulted in children falling through the cracks – so much so that one expert now says South Africa is completely unable to meet the mental health needs of its children. Tiyese Jeranji investigates.

Read More

Oral Health: Dire shortage of dental practitioners in public sector

Oral Health: Dire shortage of dental practitioners in public sector

Oral health is critical to people’s overall health, but a dire shortage of oral health practitioners in the public health sector means that many people are not getting the oral healthcare services they need. Luvuyo Mehlwana spoke to health officials and oral health experts about the state of oral health services in the country.

Read More

SA missing childhood immunisation catch-up targets

SA missing childhood immunisation catch-up targets

Following a decline in childhood immunisations during the COVID-19 hard lockdown last year, a nationwide catch-up drive was launched in November. Government is not sharing all the data on how the drive is going, but the data that we have been able to access shows that some important catch-up targets are being missed.

Read More

Analysis: What can SA do about the ‘slow violence’ of child hunger and malnutrition?

Analysis: What can SA do about the ‘slow violence’ of child hunger and malnutrition?

The 2020 edition of the South African Child Gauge released last week once again placed the spotlight on the country’s child hunger and nutrition crisis. Various specifics in the new budget being presented in parliament today will tell us how committed government is in addressing this crisis, writes Kathryn Cleary.

Read More

Reimagining health in the Eastern Cape: As budgets shrink, it is more important than ever to strengthen primary healthcare

Reimagining health in the Eastern Cape: As budgets shrink, it is more important than ever to strengthen primary healthcare

As the final negotiations in the 2021 budget process unfold, the government of the Eastern Cape and the department of health in particular are being asked to do more with less. It is now more urgent than ever to strengthen public primary health care, argue Ektaa Deochand and Russell Rensburg.

Read More

TB in children: Exciting treatment advances, but better tests badly needed

TB in children: Exciting treatment advances, but better tests badly needed

Children shoulder approximately 12% of the global TB burden, and this proportion is likely higher in high TB burden countries. In South Africa, up to 30 000 children develop TB each year. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to TB expert, Dr Megan Palmer from Brooklyn Chest Hospital about treatment challenges and how to improve TB detection and treatment outcomes in children.

Read More

New medicines should make life easier for kids living with HIV

New medicines should make life easier for kids living with HIV

HIV medicines for children often taste bitter, pills are large, and for many children there is a lot of medication to take. This makes it hard to take treatment as prescribed. Tiyese Jeranji looks at the challenges with currently available HIV medicines for children, what innovations are in the pipeline, and how HIV treatment is being tailored to suit the needs of children.

Read More

Analysis: Unlike the global trend, South Africa’s children are too short and too fat

Analysis: Unlike the global trend, South Africa’s children are too short and too fat

A Lancet article reporting on children’s height and weight changes over the past thirty years makes for grim reading when it comes to South Africa. Two of the country’s top child nutrition experts unpack what this landmark study means and what we can do to improve the situation.

Read More

When kids go hungry: COVID-19 relief grant misses the mark for children

When kids go hungry: COVID-19 relief grant misses the mark for children

Over 7 million caregivers and 13 million children have been plunged deeper into poverty as payouts of the R500 caregiver grant ended in October. While this top-up was discontinued, the COVID-19 Special Relief of Distress grant which reaches an estimated 6 million people was extended. In the final article of a six-part series on child hunger, Kathryn Cleary speaks to mothers, children and experts about the implications of these decisions about grants.

Read More