South Africa is one of only six countries to ever meet their “fair share target” for funding tuberculosis (TB) research, according to a new report. In absolute terms however, South Africa’s contribution is small change compared to investments into TB research made by the top two contributors, the United States government and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks what the report tells us about investment in TB research in South Africa.
For businesses and households that can afford it, solar panels and batteries offer a way to keep the lights on during South Africa’s ongoing bouts of loadshedding. Such technologies may also offer a solution for healthcare facilities, where a reliable energy supply can be a matter of life and death. Nthusang Lefafa spoke to stakeholders and experts in the public and private health sectors about the promise of solar energy to mitigate the impact of loadshedding on health services.
When Professor Petro Terblanche joined biotechnology start-up Afrigen three years ago, she had no idea that the team she was heading up would create the continent’s first mRNA vaccine. But that wasn’t the first time Terblanche had been at the forefront of cutting-edge scientific work. Aisha Abdool Karim spoke to her as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.
Ventilation plays an important role in preventing the transmission of airborne diseases but currently, ventilation standards for buildings are focused on preventing odours in spaces, instead of preventing disease transmission. Elri Voigt spoke to two experts about the role of ventilation in the transmission of airborne diseases such as tuberculosis and COVID-19 and what can be done to improve ventilation in buildings.
Biopharmaceuticals are therapeutic drugs, vaccines, and diagnostics in which the active ingredient is produced in a living substance such as eggs or tobacco plants. The living substance acts as a ‘miniature factory’ in which the active ingredient is grown and replicated. Catherine Tomlinson takes a deep dive into the fascinating research and other initiatives in South Africa aimed at spurring local production of these products – and asks why a Cape Town-based company opted to set up a manufacturing plant in Mauritius rather than at home.
Lockdown has been difficult for most people in South Africa, but residents in the South Durban Basin describe their experiences as tantamount to a health hostage situation as they are caught between polluted air from petrochemical industries and the COVID-19 virus. Nomfundo Xolo investigates.