The world is seeing tuberculosis (TB) deaths increase for the first time in over a decade. To turn things around and to put an end to TB being a leading infectious disease killer globally, we need to make sure the voices of people affected by TB are at the core of developing person-centered, quality TB care, free from stigma and discrimination, argue a group of TB experts and activists.
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.
Though the numbers are relatively uncertain, it is estimated that between four and five million people in South Africa are living with diabetes. One reason for the uncertainty is a lack of testing. A lack of testing also means that many people get diagnosed too late in the course of the disease. Elri Voigt asks what we do and do not know about diabetes in the country and what should be done about it.
“The results are in: artificial intelligence (AI) outperforms humans at reading chest X-rays for signs of tuberculosis,” proclaimed a recent newsletter of the Stop TB Partnership. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to a variety of experts about the landmark study behind this proclamation and asked what AI-aided X-ray interpretation may mean for countries like South Africa with high TB burdens.
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.
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.
Although it is necessary for the criminal justice system to prohibit and punish conduct that is harmful to the public interest, criminalising exposure to or transmission of HIV goes against important public health principles, writes Sibusisiwe Ndlela.
Nurses make up a large part of the healthcare workforce in South Africa, but almost half of them are set to retire in the next 15 years. This suggests existing shortages of nurses will become even greater unless we take concrete steps to boost nurse training and retention. Elna Schütz reports.
The ongoing judicial inquest into the deaths of mental healthcare users during the Life Esidimeni tragedy in 2016, has again been postponed this week. It is the fifth time the proceedings have been postponed since the inquest started in July this year, signalling that there is still a long road ahead for determining any criminal accountability for these deaths. Julia Chaskalson takes stock of the progress so far and what to expect in the months ahead.
In its observations on South Africa, the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) expressed grave concern regarding the rights of people with psychosocial disabilities. Professor Lesley Robertson looks at our medical model of disability and mental health legislation and unpacks the change needed at the societal and health system levels.
Initially hamstrung by low and uncertain supplies of COVID-19 vaccines, government is arguably now in a better position to campaign actively to accelerate vaccine demand, albeit in the midst of an often-harmful viral “infodemic”. Chris Bateman asks what can be done to boost demand for the jab.
Since the enactment of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act (CTOP Act) in 1996, there has been a significant disconnect between the official policy on safe abortion and its implementation. The situation has worsened with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and access to abortion services is now severely limited, write Boitumelo Masipa and Thembi Mahlathi.