HPV: What is happening with SA’s other relatively new vaccine programme?

In 2014, South Africa launched an HPV vaccination campaign targeting 9-year-old public school learners in Grade 4. It involves delivering two doses of vaccine six months apart. Laura Owings asks how the campaign is going and what recent real-world HPV vaccine effectiveness data from the United Kingdom might mean for South Africa.

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Family focus shows promise for TB prevention

Tuberculosis (TB) preventive therapy is highly effective in preventing TB disease and death, yet only a few people have access to it. Tiyese Jeranji reports on how Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) in Khayelitsha is helping TB patients, as well as their contacts, access preventive therapy in the comfort of their homes as part of a new family-centred TB care initiative.

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Opinion: WHO numbers underscore urgent need for stronger leadership and ambitious TB recovery plan

According to new estimates from the World Health Organization around 61 000 people died of TB in South Africa in 2020, an increase of around 5% over 2019. That works out to over 1 100 TB deaths in the country every week. We urgently need a transparent TB recovery plan and we need both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Joe Phaahla to invest real political capital in the implementation of the plan, the authors argue.

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What public sector mental health services look like in the Free State

A 36-year-old mother living with HIV from Thabong in Welkom in the Free State is among the many millions of people in South Africa who rely on public healthcare services. Also, like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated disruptions have left her in a constant struggle with anxiety. Refilwe Mochoari asks what mental health services are available to people in the Free State who depend on the public healthcare system.

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Mental Health: Grief, loss – we are all traumatised, says psychiatrist on the COVID-19 frontlines

Working with Groote Schuur Hospital’s frontline COVID team, Psychiatry Professor Jackie Hoare help manage the mental health of patients admitted with severe COVID pneumonia and also the mental health needs of fellow healthcare workers. Bienne Huisman caught up with her to talk about providing counselling at the bedside of COVID patients and how we deal with the complexities of grief in a time of COVID-19.

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COVID-19: What tests are available in SA and which ones to use?

The different types of COVID-19 tests are far from equal. Picking a test is generally a matter of speed versus accuracy and, most importantly, why you need a test and when. What are the limitations of these tests? Is there any quality control? What are the chances of false positives and false negatives? Elsabé Brits surveys the landscape of tests available in South Africa and asks which type is most appropriate in what situation.

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In-depth: SA’s mental health policy has lapsed, what happens next?

Once widely hailed, South Africa’s Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020 lapsed last year, with mixed reviews on its implementation from mental healthcare stakeholders. The National Department of Health now says the revised and updated Policy Framework and Plan will be in place in the next financial year. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to experts and activists about what the lapsed policy framework achieved and what to improve.

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