The world is seeing tuberculosis (TB) deaths increase for the first time in over a decade. To turn things around and to put an end to TB being a leading infectious disease killer globally, we need to make sure the voices of people affected by TB are at the core of developing person-centered, quality TB care, free from stigma and discrimination, argue a group of TB experts and activists.
According to new estimates from the World Health Organization around 61 000 people died of TB in South Africa in 2020, an increase of around 5% over 2019. That works out to over 1 100 TB deaths in the country every week. We urgently need a transparent TB recovery plan and we need both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Joe Phaahla to invest real political capital in the implementation of the plan, the authors argue.
“The results are in: artificial intelligence (AI) outperforms humans at reading chest X-rays for signs of tuberculosis,” proclaimed a recent newsletter of the Stop TB Partnership. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to a variety of experts about the landmark study behind this proclamation and asked what AI-aided X-ray interpretation may mean for countries like South Africa with high TB burdens.
Nurses make up a large part of the healthcare workforce in South Africa, but almost half of them are set to retire in the next 15 years. This suggests existing shortages of nurses will become even greater unless we take concrete steps to boost nurse training and retention. Elna Schütz reports.
Since the enactment of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (CTOP Act) in 1996, there has been a significant disconnect between the official policy on safe abortion and its implementation. The situation has worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and access to abortion services is now severely limited, write Boitumelo Masipa and Thembi Mahlathi.
The new national clinical guidelines for the implementation of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act serve as an opportunity to strengthen services in providing much-needed clarity and guidance to health workers. Marion Stevens and Nozizwe Conco unpack these guidelines on International Safe Abortion Day.
Already very long waiting times for gender-affirming surgery in South Africa’s public sector have gotten even longer due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tiyese Jeranji investigates the challenges transgender persons in the country face in accessing gender-affirming care.
Having to collect one’s medicines at overcrowded public sector clinics with long queues can be time-consuming, disruptive, and, these days, may expose one to a risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. Thabo Molelekwa takes stock of South Africa’s centralised chronic medicines dispensing and distribution programme, the Department of Health’s system for allowing more people to collect their chronic medicines closer to their homes or workplaces.
It’s been over a year since COVID-19 first hit South Africa. Since then, many people have been living in constant fear and many have lost loved ones. Frontline healthcare workers had no choice but to face their fears if they were to keep doing the life-saving work they were trained for. Amy Green and colleagues explore the emotional toll that South Africa’s third wave of COVID-19 is taking on healthcare workers.
When renowned geneticist Professor Michèle Ramsay is not building knowledge of African genomic diversity and working on decoding clues for genetic susceptibility to disease, she is knitting a “COVID blanket”. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to her about her passion for genetics, the complexities of genome editing, and how she copes with COVID-19.
Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic many medical interns in South Africa had a tough time, often working long hours and with little oversight or support. Chris Bateman spoke to interns and junior doctors in public hospitals and tag-on COVID-19 facilities, who are performing tasks of porters, auxiliary nurses, and liaising with anxious relatives, instead of getting the required hands-on, supervised learning.
For Dr Caroline Pule, a biomedical scientist working in tuberculosis (TB) research, her passion for finding answers that can help ease the suffering caused by diseases such as TB started with a promise she wrote in her diary when she was 13 years old. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to Pule about following her dream of saving lives and teaching young girls to believe in possibilities.