The good doctor: Mark Blaylock on finding meaning back at Manguzi

The good doctor: Mark Blaylock on finding meaning back at Manguzi

In December 2008, Dr Mark Blaylock left South Africa after a high-profile spat with then-Health MEC of KwaZulu-Natal Peggy Nkonyeni. The affair was sparked by Blaylock’s colleague Colin Pfaff being charged with misconduct for sourcing funding for antiretroviral drugs for pregnant women living with HIV. Four years later, Blaylock was back at Manguzi District Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Sue Segar chatted to Blaylock about his years outside of South Africa, returning to Manguzi, and how healthcare in KwaZulu-Natal has changed over the years.

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Surgeries delayed at Charlotte Maxeke as key machine decommissioned before replacements are ready

Surgeries delayed at Charlotte Maxeke as key machine decommissioned before replacements are ready

Staff say patients at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital in need of vascular surgery face a three-month wait for life-saving surgery because of what some staff are calling “fishy” operational management and bad planning. According to hospital management, however, patients will be diverted to other hospitals during this period. Ufrieda Ho reports.

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TB contact tracing helps save lives – this is how it works in SA

TB contact tracing helps save lives – this is how it works in SA

Tracing the close contacts of people ill with tuberculosis (TB) and offering them TB preventive therapy is part of South Africa’s strategy to fight TB. A recent analysis found that such an approach of tracing household contacts and providing them with TB preventive treatment is cost-effective and would – by 2025 – cut deaths by 35% among household contacts of all ages and people living with HIV. In light of these new findings, Tiyese Jeranji assesses the state of contact tracing in South Africa’s public healthcare system.

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Women in health: “No one taught me how to treat a sick system,” says leading young Professor

Women in health: “No one taught me how to treat a sick system,” says leading young Professor

In high school, a guidance councillor told Salome Maswime that she would never be accepted at medical school. Today, she is a professor and head of Global Surgery at the University of Cape Town. Biénne Huisman chatted to Maswime about her work on safe surgery, her remarkable career, and being the only black woman in the room.

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Analysis: SA’s new mental health plan and the problem of stigma

Analysis: SA’s new mental health plan and the problem of stigma

Mental illnesses and the labels that go with these illnesses are often associated with stigma, which in turn influences health-seeking behaviour and adherence to treatment. Nthusang Lefafa looks at how South Africa’s National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2023 – 2030 addresses stigma and asked some experts for their views.

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Growing the beta variant – young scientist remembers the day they danced in the lab

Growing the beta variant – young scientist remembers the day they danced in the lab

During South Africa’s COVID-19 hard lockdown, rising star scientist Dr Sandile Cele spent his Christmas holidays in a laboratory. Soon the 35-year-old became the first to successfully grow the beta variant of SARS-CoV-2 in the lab. Biénne Huisman spoke to Cele about how he did this, the string of accolades he received since, and his leap from a modest upbringing to the global scientific stage.

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Feature: The complexities of traditional and medical circumcision in the Eastern Cape

Feature: The complexities of traditional and medical circumcision in the Eastern Cape

While most male circumcisions performed in the Eastern Cape are done in the traditional manner, there are also significant numbers of medical male circumcisions being conducted. Siyabonga Kamnqa reports on this year’s winter initiation season in the province and the complex interplay between culture, safety, and protection against HIV involved in deciding between the two types of circumcision.

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ANALYSIS: Will new leadership signal a new dawn at the Health Professions Council?

ANALYSIS: Will new leadership signal a new dawn at the Health Professions Council?

In May, Dr Magome Masike stepped into the role of CEO and registrar of the Health Professions Council (HPCSA). Eight weeks into the job, Ufrieda Ho sat down to talk to him about his plans for the beleaguered institution.

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#WhatItsLike: Top forensic pathologist on his career at the autopsy table

#WhatItsLike: Top forensic pathologist on his career at the autopsy table

Attending the Forensic DNA Symposium recently held in Cape Town where the vital role of DNA analysis in criminal investigations was highlighted, Sue Segar caught up with Professor Ryan Blumenthal, a senior specialist forensic pathologist at the University of Pretoria. Blumenthal was one of the speakers. He told her more about bearing first-hand witness to death and its causes at the autopsy table and what this can tell us about the society we live in.

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Face to face: “Fail your way to success”, says Prof behind pioneering drug discovery group at UCT

Face to face: “Fail your way to success”, says Prof behind pioneering drug discovery group at UCT

Technical work on the discovery of new medicines is not commonly done in South Africa, or Africa, for that matter. One person who is at the forefront of changing this, is Kelly Chibale, a professor in organic chemistry and founder of the pioneering Holistic Drug Discovery and Development Centre – H3D – at the University of Cape Town. Biénne Huisman spoke to Chibale about his fascinating work and his journey from a village in Zambia, across the world, and back to Cape Town.

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RIGHT OF REPLY: Reducing the surgical and cancer treatment backlogs is an urgent priority

RIGHT OF REPLY: Reducing the surgical and cancer treatment backlogs is an urgent priority

Following an article in Spotlight bemoaning “the lack of urgency” by the Gauteng Department of Health in addressing cancer and surgical backlogs despite having been allocated funds toward this, Dr Stephen Mankupane, Acting Head of Hospital Services in the provincial health department, writes that there is no disputing the fact that there is a need to act with urgency in attending to these backlogs and outlines what the department is doing. Here is his response in full.

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In-depth: What it means to build genomics capacity in Africa

In-depth: What it means to build genomics capacity in Africa

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw the remarkable power of genomics in helping us keep track of new viral variants. Several scientists argue that Africa should continue to invest in genomics to support disease control and public health. Sue Segar asks what this means in practice and why it is considered so critically important.

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