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.
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.
Conversations with young people about sex can lead to safer sexual behaviour, like delayed sexual debut, the use of condoms and other contraceptives, and having fewer concurrent sexual partners but we need to give learners and young people clear and reliable information so that they can make informed choices relating to their health, writes Julia Chaskalson.
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.
In an open letter to young women in South Africa, Faith Fikizolo reminds us that meaningful comprehensive sex education is an important lever in ensuring girls and young women are fully empowered to exercise their sexual and reproductive health rights. She argues that, due to the lack of meaningful sexuality education, many South African young women and girls lack bodily autonomy.
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.
Fiery nurse activist Fikile Dikolomela-Lengene says she has had a front-row seat to corruption unfolding in Gauteng’s public health sector and she is not afraid to speak out. Biénne Huisman chatted to Dikomela-Lengene, who calls herself ‘Sr Fikx’ because she wants to influence change in the public health sector.
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.
Being a midwife is not a career for her, says Sebabatso Tsosane – it’s a calling. Refilwe Mochoari spoke to Tsosane – a midwife, lecturer, and founder of the Free State-based organisation Black Women Arise – about her passion to empower women with knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.
South Africa is seeing fewer medication stockouts than in previous years but contraception shortages continue to be a problem in the country, according to a new report from the Stop Stockouts Project. Injectables, the most widely used method in South Africa, accounted for three-quarters of contraception stockouts reported. Aisha Abdool Karim unpacks what this means for women’s sexual and reproductive health.