OPINION: Reflections on a budget of ‘unmet expectations’

OPINION: Reflections on a budget of ‘unmet expectations’

Budgets alone do not solve structural issues, but what it does is provide some insight into the government’s plans for addressing its broader developmental priorities. Russel Rensburg unpacks what the medium-term budget policy statement means for the health sector.

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Family focus shows promise for TB prevention

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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Experts urge registration of new child-friendly ARV formulation

Experts urge registration of new child-friendly ARV formulation

Children living with HIV have to take multiple different antiretroviral pills or syrups twice a day, while most adults in South Africa have been offered one pill once a day regimens for around a decade. At the recent South African HIV Clinicians Society (SAHCS) conference, various speakers argued that better treatment regimens for kids are needed urgently. Thabo Molelekwa reports.

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In-depth: Dirty laundry at Eastern Cape hospitals and the plan to deal with it

In-depth: Dirty laundry at Eastern Cape hospitals and the plan to deal with it

Some staff members at Livingstone Hospital in the Eastern Cape say old laundry machines and staff shortages are creating backlogs in getting clean linen, towels, and hospital gowns to patients. Patients, in turn, say they have to sleep on bare and soiled mattresses often with no bedding or dirty linen. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports on the situation, its implications for infection control, and the province’s plans to deal with it.

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Five developments in paediatric tuberculosis

Five developments in paediatric tuberculosis

The screening, diagnosis, and treatment of tuberculosis (TB) in children remain far from optimal – and in many respects lags behind what can be done for adults. Elri Voigt rounds up five developments in paediatric TB presented at the 52nd Union World Conference on Lung Health.

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In Focus: Unpacking the link between HIV and mental health

In Focus: Unpacking the link between HIV and mental health

Studies show that people living with HIV are often at a higher risk for depression and anxiety, including a higher risk of suicide. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to mental health practitioners, activists, and people living with HIV to unpack the link between HIV and mental health.

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Two years later, Kimberley Mental Health Hospital still not at capacity

Two years later, Kimberley Mental Health Hospital still not at capacity

This month it is two years since Northern Cape Premier Dr Zamani Saul opened the multimillion-rand Kimberley Mental Health Hospital, calling it a ‘monument of corruption’. By then, Saul said the hospital, which has a capacity of 287 beds, already had 160 patients and will be operationalised in phases. Yet, union Nehawu, community healthcare workers, activists, and some mental health practitioners insist mental health users in the public sector are still disadvantaged because the hospital is still not running at capacity. Refilwe Mochoari reports.

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Fingerstick blood test shows promise for TB screening

Fingerstick blood test shows promise for TB screening

The World Health Organization estimates that over four million of the almost ten million people who fell ill with tuberculosis in 2020 were not diagnosed. One obstacle to more people being diagnosed is the fact that most current tests require people to produce sputum – something children and some people living with HIV find difficult. Tiyese Jeranji looks at a new fingerstick blood test that may help diagnose more people quicker.

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In-depth: Millions spent on security at Gauteng health facilities but concerns remain

In-depth: Millions spent on security at Gauteng health facilities but concerns remain

The Gauteng Department of Health annually spends millions on security at its health facilities based on contracts that expired in 2016 and that since have been extended from month to month. Yet, theft, vandalism, and reports of healthcare workers who work in fear at some health facilities continue. Despite this, the department insists that spending on security is not wasteful and “the business case for security remains robust”. Thabo Molelekwa and Alicestine October reports.

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In-depth: How are depression and bipolar disorder treated in the public sector?

In-depth: How are depression and bipolar disorder treated in the public sector?

It is estimated that “one in ten adults living in South Africa will have experienced major clinical depression at some point in their life but only 25% have sought treatment and care for their mental conditions, such as depression”. Although these estimates are based on the South African Stress and Health (SASH) study, last done in 2009, subsequent studies have stressed the significant challenge of reducing this treatment gap in the country. Elri Voigt asks how conditions like major depression and bipolar disorder are diagnosed and treated in the public sector in South Africa.

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Life Esidimeni Inquest: Journal of a grieving sister

Life Esidimeni Inquest: Journal of a grieving sister

The Life Esidimeni Inquest that started in July has been postponed until 15 November. This is the fifth postponement, meaning another agonising wait for family members of the deceased. The Inquest is crucial to determine who should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mental healthcare users in 2016. Here one family member, Christine Nxumalo, shares in her own words some extracts from her journal on the Inquest proceedings, the long wait, and dealing with grief.

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Opinion: Quality Tuberculosis care starts with people

Opinion: Quality Tuberculosis care starts with people

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.

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