At Madwaleni Hospital in the rural Eastern Cape, vaccinations of health workers were set to start this week. However, steering this rural hospital to this point through a global pandemic, had its challenges. Bienne Huisman spoke to one doctor about how they made it through the first and second waves of the pandemic.
One of the biggest challenges now facing South Africa’s HIV response is how to support many more people living with HIV to engage or re-engage and then stay on treatment. One way to make it easier for people living with HIV to adhere to treatment is to provide a longer supply of medicines, argues Ndivhuwo Rambau & Simphiwe Xaba.
The World Trade Organization TRIPS council is expected to vote on South Africa and India’s proposed patent waiver on 10 or 11 March which could, if granted, help countries to scale up production of COVID-19 vaccines. But, while the waiver is important, argues Julia Chaskalson, it is also urgent that South Africa should amend its outdated domestic patent laws.
In late January, Dr Anban Pillay, Deputy Director-General in South Africa’s National Department of Health, revealed that South Africa would pay more than double the price paid by the European Union (EU) for AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine. This set off a flurry of questions on how vaccine prices are set and why, in many cases, the prices themselves are not known to the public. Catherine Tomlinson takes a closer look at the issues involved.
In 2018, Cabinet adopted a new intellectual property policy for South Africa, but as yet the policy has not led to any change in the country’s patent laws. Amending these laws as soon as possible is critical to both the COVID-19 and HIV response, argues Umunyana Rugege.
Medicine stockouts can have dire consequences. Tendai Mafuma and Ruth Dube look at lessons learnt over the years on how to help prevent medicine stockouts and argue that although the interventions are not new, if implemented it could help solve the vicious cycle of medicine stockouts in the Eastern Cape.
Before any COVID-19 vaccines can be made available in South Africa, they must be authorised by South Africa’s medicines regulator—the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). Catherine Tomlinson explores how SAHPRA is preparing to review and authorise the use of COVID-19 vaccines in the country and the different authorisation approaches they may use.
Pharmacists do much more than stand behind a counter dispensing medicine. These professionals have a key role to play in the health care system and the overall well-being of people. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to a community pharmacist and pharmacists in the public health sector to understand their role and the challenges they face.
Recently the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority was criticised for not approving laboratory-based SARS-CoV-2 antibody tests. Spotlight Editor Marcus Low argues that despite the regulator’s capacity constraints, its flexible conservatism is something to be grateful for.
Reports of drug shortages and stock-outs across South Africa have the Department of Health in a race against the clock to ensure a supply of essential medicines. With manufacturing operations around the world still facing issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the country is battling to meet the demand for contraceptives, tuberculosis medicines and psychiatric medicines.
Having pressed the imperative of equitable global sharing of COVID-19 health products, President Ramaphosa must now declare support for the Intellectual Property Pool for COVID-19, argues Professor Yousuf Vawda & Professor Brook K Baker.