Spotlight first interviewed physician and infectious diseases specialist Dr Arifa Parker in May last year as South Africa’s first wave of COVID-19 was building up. Eleven very difficult months later, Bienne Huisman checks in with Parker to hear how things are going on the frontlines at Tygerberg Hospital.
As the first two waves of COVID-19 swept through South Africa hospitals and healthcare workers were under huge pressure. Siyabonga Kamnqa spoke to some medical students about their involvement in a Western Cape volunteer programme to help out at health facilities.
When the history books are written, 2020 will be remembered as the year of COVID-19. But, in the world of health care, a lot of other things have happened, or not happened. We tried to summarise a tumultuous year in only 1 000 words.
Three years ago, public sector cancer services made headlines for failing patients in multiple provinces. A few government interventions later, experts say there have been improvements, but significant issues remain. Elna Schütz reports.
From March to July this year, the Gauteng Department of Health recorded 57 848 TB tests – a decrease of about 30 000 tests compared to the same period last year. The province performed better with HIV testing, although the HIV response has faltered in other areas. Melissa Javan makes sense of the province’s numbers and speaks to activists and community health workers about the impact of lockdown on their services and plans to get things back on track.
While South Africa is doing well on some of the UNAIDS HIV targets for 2020, one target we are set to miss is ensuring that 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy. Partly in response to this problem, the ‘Welcome back’ campaign started by Doctors without Borders aims to make it easier for people who have stopped taking treatment to restart. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
If South Africa is forced to go into a COVID-19 lockdown again, HIV support groups and adherence clubs should remain functional to make sure that everyone is supported, has regular access to information and treatment, and that people are motivated to adhere to treatment, argue Annah Maluleke and Solanga Milambo.
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.
Over 7 million caregivers and 13 million children have been plunged deeper into poverty as payouts of the R500 caregiver grant ended in October. While this top-up was discontinued, the COVID-19 Special Relief of Distress grant which reaches an estimated 6 million people was extended. In the final article of a six-part series on child hunger, Kathryn Cleary speaks to mothers, children and experts about the implications of these decisions about grants.
After not receiving any government food parcels, one Western Cape farming community pulled together to provide their own COVID-19 relief. In the fifth article of a six-part series on child hunger, Kathryn Cleary spoke to a few women from Elsenburg who have distributed their own food parcels and started soup kitchens to feed hungry children and families in their community.
At Cape Town’s Tygerberg Hospital, a robot named Quintin played its part in the fight to save Nceba Simayile’s life as he lay intubated on a ventilator, struggling to breathe. Biénne Huisman reports.
The recent budget policy statement shows South Africa finds itself in a very tight fiscal space where it has to navigate a global pandemic along with other health challenges such as rising rates of non-communicable diseases. Russell Rensburg argues that the Health Promotion Levy should be increased to 20% – which will raise much-needed revenue that will contribute to preventing disease and reducing healthcare costs.