More than three quarters of 200 hospitals surveyed from across the globe report that their paediatric cancer care services had been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in the Lancet medical journal. Yet, some large centres in South Africa appear to have been relatively unaffected. Kathryn Cleary reports.
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 But, while the waiver is important, argues Julia Chaskalson, it is also urgent that South Africa should amend its outdated domestic patent laws.
Some foreign nationals in South Africa, their community leaders, human rights lawyers and activists are concerned that their health needs are falling through the cracks. This was compounded during lockdown with some foreign nationals claiming they were refused healthcare and others now concerned they will be excluded from the vaccine rollout. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.
On 17 February Sr Milanie Bennett administered the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to President Cyril Ramaphosa. Bienne Huisman tracked her down to learn more about her long journey to this historical moment.
Reproductive health experts say South Africa recorded a 30% increase in maternal deaths during lockdown compared to the same period in 2019. Suicide, a previously unrecognised cause of maternal mortality in the country, also increased and some experts believe the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic played a role. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
For all the suffering and death the COVID-19 pandemic has caused over the last 12 months, it has arguably also provided a unique opportunity to test some of the mechanisms behind South Africa’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) system. The centralised procurement of vaccines and the contracting of doctors, for example, are probably not dissimilar from the arrangements we might see under NHI. Kathryn Cleary asks three leading health experts what lessons, for NHI, we should learn from the COVID-19 response.
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.
Despite the global emergence of highly resistant strains of gonorrhoea, including untreatable variants, a new antibiotic for the disease has not been developed in over half a century. In January, a trial began in South Africa and other countries for a new gonorrhoea antibiotic. But what is gonorrhoea? How significant is the problem in South Africa and among those living with HIV? Do we have resistant strains too? Experts report a grim situation, but with hope on the horizon. Amy Green reports.
The national budget tabled this week shows that planned spending on public health is reduced by a massive R50.3 billion over the next three years. We cannot accept a vaccine versus health system trade-off. Government must both expedite the procurement of vaccines and ensure that provinces have the staff and other capabilities to rapidly roll them out and to maintain and improve the quality of healthcare services, argue writers from SECTION27.
The 2020 edition of the South African Child Gauge released last week once again placed the spotlight on the country’s child hunger and nutrition crisis. Various specifics in the new budget being presented in parliament today will tell us how committed government is in addressing this crisis, writes Kathryn Cleary.
Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman has declined social media calls that he be nominated for the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize. Bienne Huisman spoke to Sooliman about the organisation’s work during the pandemic, his background, and what keeps him going.