That South Africa has unusually high levels of inter-personal violence is clear from the country’s crime statistics and regular news reports about violent crime. The knock-on effects on the mental health of people in the country are, however, less easy to quantify. Thabo Molelekwa reports on local research showing an association between exposure to violence in childhood and mental health problems later in life.
For decades, Professor Heather Zar has been at the cutting edge of research into the health of children in South Africa. Last month she received the European Respiratory Society’s lifetime achievement award in paediatrics. Biénne Huisman chatted to Zar about her career, the remarkable Drakenstein Child Health Study, and the urgent need to ensure access to new RSV vaccines in Africa.
Even in 2023, infants under five years in the Free State are still dying from a lack of healthy food. From April to June this year, 21 children in the province died of severe acute malnutrition and one died of moderate acute malnutrition. Refilwe Mochoari unpacks the numbers and asks government about its plans to address what at least one expert is calling a ‘crisis’.
A landmark global observational study found that many neonates get life-threatening bloodstream infections, or sepsis, and are dying because the antibiotics used to treat them are not effective. Sepsis affects up to 3 million babies a year globally and the study authors estimate that 214 000 newborns die every year from sepsis that has become antibiotic resistant – mainly in low- to middle-income countries. Adele Baleta reports.
So far this year the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has issued reports on three different outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases – measles, mumps, and diphtheria. Elri Voigt spoke to local experts about these outbreaks and what it tells us about the country’s immunisation programme and the potential for future outbreaks.
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.
The first vaccine to prevent severe lung infections, including pneumonia, in infants will save thousands of lives and reduce the burden on health systems of low- to middle-income countries, researchers say. Adele Baleta reports.
The scientific evidence that exclusive breastfeeding is best for infants is very strong. Yet, some baby milk formula companies continue to use questionable methods to create demand for their products, thereby undermining breastfeeding. Elsabé Brits explores this and spoke to experts based on a series of articles published in The Lancet.
Unless we get ahead of both the climate crisis and the current levels of pervasive injustice, we will never be able to catch up – even if the National Health Insurance Project achieves what it originally intended, argues Professor Louis Reynolds.
Almost 400 cases of measles have been reported across five provinces over the last four months. The NICD has advised that clinicians should be on high alert, as the opening of schools may lead to localised outbreaks. Elri Voigt reports on the current state of the outbreak, the potential outcomes, and what is being done to curtail the spread of measles in the country.
Earlier this year, the annual Child Gauge indicated that child and adolescent mental health services in South Africa are in crisis – mostly due to inadequate resources. How to best provide such services within the constraints of our public healthcare system is an open question. Tiyese Jeranji visited the Michael Mapongwane Community Health Centre in Khayelitsha where a pilot project aimed at improving kids’ access to mental health services is showing encouraging results.
When Free State Health MEC Montseng Tsiu took to the podium in April this year to deliver her budget speech, she said there was an increase in deaths of children under five mostly due to severe acute malnutrition which has increased from 3.1% in the 2020/21 financial year to 9.6% in 2021/22. This meant of all the children admitted to the province’s hospitals for acute malnutrition, 48 died in 2020/21 and 86 in 2021/22. Refilwe Mochoari unpacks the numbers and asked authorities, experts, and community leaders what can be done.