The closure of some public sector oral health clinics in the Eastern Cape over the festive period is deeply concerning, having left some patients with nowhere to go. A comprehensive plan must be put in place for efficient management and referral of emergency oral healthcare cases during this time and we must ensure that people who need the services are aware of how to access them, argues Dr Bulela Vava.
In the context of weak economic growth, lower-than-expected tax revenues, and the implementation of measures to reduce public spending, there is a “rising panic” ahead of this year’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. The concern for health care provision is palpable as anticipated budget cuts threaten the country’s already fragile and understaffed public healthcare system, write Matshidiso Lencoasa and Dominic Brown.
South Africa faces chronic healthcare worker shortages and the country’s Human Resources for Health Strategy 2030 has warned of an impending healthcare worker crisis. The shortages are particularly acute in some rural areas. One part of the solution that was the talk of the recently held Rural Health Conference, is to employ more clinical associates. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
Between South Africa’s Public Procurement Bill and the National Health Insurance Bill, health sector procurement in the country is set for a major shake-up – all as a landmark court decision recently reaffirmed the Constitutional imperative that public procurement must be conducted in a transparent way. Alicestine October takes a deep dive into the accelerating currents of procurement reform.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many committees and organisations were working around the clock to prepare the country for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Professor Hannelie Meyer, a pharmacist-turned-academic and later vaccine advocate, served on several of these committees. Elri Voigt spoke to Meyer about the pandemic, the mottos that guide her, and being an unapologetic workaholic.
Tracing the close contacts of people ill with tuberculosis (TB) and offering them TB preventive therapy is part of South Africa’s strategy to fight TB. A recent analysis found that such an approach of tracing household contacts and providing them with TB preventive treatment is cost-effective and would – by 2025 – cut deaths by 35% among household contacts of all ages and people living with HIV. In light of these new findings, Tiyese Jeranji assesses the state of contact tracing in South Africa’s public healthcare system.
The 11th SA AIDS conference, recently held in Durban, highlighted the worrying fact that key HIV numbers such as treatment coverage are much lower in children than in adults. But as Elri Voigt reports, conference delegates also heard about new treatments and guidelines that will make life easier for kids and the exciting potential of several new long-acting experimental treatments.
Last year Spotlight reported that pilot projects testing out a new HIV prevention injection and a vaginal ring in South Africa would start early in 2023. Yet, as delegates gathered for the SA AIDS Conference in Durban last week, those pilots hadn’t yet started. Alicestine October and Elri Voigt have the latest on the state of play with these critical projects.
According to the latest report from community-based clinic monitoring group Ritshidze, users of public sector health facilities in Mpumalanga are experiencing shorter waiting times, cleaner facilities, and extended antiretroviral refills compared to previous years. But Ritshidze also reports ongoing staff shortages, problematic staff attitudes, and problems with infrastructure. Nthusang Lefafa unpacks the new findings and asks the province’s health department what they are planning in response.
So far this year the National Institute for Communicable Diseases has issued reports on three different outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases – measles, mumps, and diphtheria. Elri Voigt spoke to local experts about these outbreaks and what it tells us about the country’s immunisation programme and the potential for future outbreaks.
Nurse shortages and issues with the training of nurses have been making headlines in recent weeks, with some referring to a ‘nursing crisis’ in South Africa. After attending a recent conference hosted by the South African Nursing Council, Thabo Molelekwa dug deeper in search of clarity on where the bottlenecks are and what can be done about them.
People in South Africa who fall ill with tuberculosis (TB) often also have other health issues. HIV, which drives much of the TB epidemic in South Africa, is the most obvious co-infection, but people who fall ill with TB are also more likely to have diabetes and mental health problems than the general public. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to local experts about the interesting links between TB and liver problems.