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.
National Treasury has proposed a R1 billion cut to HIV funding. This has come about because – rather than seeing the reduced price of antiretroviral treatment as an opportunity to scale up treatment coverage and strengthen other interventions to address the HIV epidemic – the Department of Health has seen it as an opportunity for cost-containment. However, the HIV epidemic is not over and savings owing to cost reductions should not simply be returned to Treasury, argue Matshidiso Lencoasa and Mila Harding.
For healthcare, a post-pandemic human rights-focused budget would have allocated funding specifically for backlogs in access to health services from the past two years, as well as tackling the present inequities in access to healthcare that characterise the public health system. Tshidi Lencoasa, Khanyisa Mapipa, and Julia Chaskalson argue that this year’s budget does not do enough to enable government to realise people’s fundamental human right to access healthcare.
COVID-19 will continue to dominate headlines in 2022, but from National Health Insurance to the availability of a new HIV prevention injection, it will also be an important year for other areas of health service delivery and for health system governance and reforms. Here is Spotlight’s pick of the top ten issues to keep an eye on.