South Africa is barrelling towards its most consequential and most competitive national and provincial elections since 1994. Spotlight editor Marcus Low asks what is on the line in these elections from a healthcare perspective and argues that the stakes are particularly high when it comes to NHI and the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provincial health departments.
2023 was a busy year for healthcare in South Africa. We saw several promising policy developments, landmark court cases, important pieces of legislation, and some changes in leadership. Yet, take a step back and at facility level little seems to have changed. Shortages of healthcare workers persist, corruption is still rife, budgets tight, and our health governance crisis remains as acute as ever. Marcus Low looks back at the year in health in fewer than 1 000 words.
Several provincial health departments have stumbled from crisis to crisis over the last decade with no sign of sustained or meaningful improvement. One reason for this, argues Spotlight editor Marcus Low, is political interference and the cadre deployment and cronyism that usually goes with it. If this is correct, is it realistic to think we can address the dysfunction in our health departments without addressing the politics behind it?
The headline-making persecution of paediatrician Dr Tim de Maayer is part of a wider trend whereby principled public sector healthcare workers are often abandoned to the whims of managers who are vindictive, incompetent, or both. Add the slow movement on South Africa’s healthcare worker policy, the poor management of the Health Professions Council, and the short shrift given to healthcare workers’ concerns about National Health Insurance, and the picture that emerges makes a mockery of government’s talk of valuing healthcare workers.
South Africa’s new National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs is being developed this year. Spotlight editor Marcus Low asks what we should aim for in the new strategy and how we should go about developing it.
“By accepting your appointment as Premier, you have become the custodian of a rough diamond. It is now in your hands whether it will reach its full potential and become a sparkling gem or remain a dusty stone.”
In what many describe as a landmark case, Uganda’s Constitutional Court will tomorrow morning (Thursday, 13 June) hear a case which challenges the government’s failure to stop the high number of women who die while giving birth.