There’s a resurgence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in South Africa and around the world. The Gauteng Department of Health recently reported an increase of newly acquired STIs, in particular gonorrhoea and chlamydia. This spike in cases call for management guidelines and awareness programmes to be reviewed, reports Ufrieda Ho.
As a child growing up in Uganda, Maureen Etuket used a screwdriver to dismantle electronic appliances and toy trucks. Now, a PhD candidate in Industrial Engineering, this curiosity has been driving her quest to find solutions to public healthcare challenges. Last month, she won the Mandela Rhodes Foundation’s award for social impact in Africa for a device that can help save the lives of women who suffer excessive bleeding after child birth. Bienne Huisman chatted with her about the device, medical innovation in Africa, and finding one’s purpose in this challenging field.
Though budget cuts impact the health system’s ability to provide quality services to the 85% of people in South Africa estimated to rely on public healthcare, women are doubly burdened by these cuts owing to their unequal reliance on public health services. Women have a disproportionate risk and prevalence of HIV/AIDS and more differentiated health needs, including those for reproductive and maternal health. This Women’s Month is an opportune moment to reflect on how much we spend on healthcare and the quality of that spending which can be powerful measures to help create a public healthcare system that narrows the gender gap, writes Matshidiso Lencoasa.
South Africa is currently observing Child Protection Week to shine a spotlight on the rights of children, as enshrined in the Constitution and the Children’s Act. The campaign aims to ensure the rights, safety, and well-being of children – aiming to foster a safer environment. To foster a safe environment, however, children must not only feel physically safe but also emotionally safe. Yet teenagers often do not have a safe space to speak to trusted people about the confusion they face around their gender, writes Kholofelo Mphahlele.
In a landmark court decision, the Gauteng High Court recently confirmed the rights of all pregnant and lactating women and children under age six to access services for free at all levels of care. The court order sets a good precedent for migrant health rights going forward, writes Mbali Baduza and Kholofelo Mphahlele as they explain the build-up to the court proceedings and why this is significant for re-affirming the right to access to healthcare for all in terms of section27 of the Constitution.
The scientific evidence that exclusive breastfeeding is best for infants is very strong. Yet, some baby milk formula companies continue to use questionable methods to create demand for their products, thereby undermining breastfeeding. Elsabé Brits explores this and spoke to experts based on a series of articles published in The Lancet.
South Africa’s HPV vaccination programme has by all accounts been a resounding success over the last decade, likely helping to prevent many cases of cervical cancer. But the programme has suffered major setbacks due to COVID-19-related disruptions and in addition to getting it back on track, some argue vaccine eligibility should be expanded to include boys as well as older girls and women newly infected with HIV. Amy Green takes stock of the country’s HPV vaccination efforts.
Despite some improvement, the community-led monitoring group Ritshidze’s second report on key populations highlights that sex workers, people who use drugs and LGBTQIA+ community members are often still discriminated against when trying to access public health facilities. This can lead to treatment interruptions and some stopping their clinic visits. Nthusang Lefafa reports.
In December 2022, the Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, set into motion a public participation process on the laws that govern sex work in South Africa. Marlise Richter & Pamela Chakuvinga point out that while the Bill published for public comment in December is very short, it will do something quite extraordinary if it does become law – it will fully decriminalise sex work. This, they argue, is a process we must see through.
As a rebellious teenager growing up in the British town of Harpenden, Professor Helen Rees would sneak out to attend anti-apartheid talks. Today, she is a renowned scientist and chair of South Africa’s medicines regulator. Biénne Huisman chatted to Rees about her career, prioritising women’s reproductive health, and her role at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.
Though South Africa has in some respects done well in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services for adolescent girls and young women, significant gaps remain. Tiyese Jeranji takes an in-depth look at the current policy landscape and asks how well the implementation of the policies measures up to their lofty ambitions.
A potentially life-saving or life-extending breast cancer medicine is available to public sector patients in several of South Africa’s provinces, but not in the Western Cape. Elri Voigt asks what is behind the Western Cape government’s decision.