The latest report published by community-led clinic monitoring group Ritshidze shows that the Free State is the worst-performing province in South Africa when it comes to giving people enough antiretrovirals to last several months at a time. This means people living with HIV in the province have to go collect their medicines more frequently than people in other provinces. Refilwe Mochoari reports.
Earlier this month the world celebrated breastfeeding week. To improve infant nutrition by 2025, the United Nations set targets to eliminate malnutrition and increase breastfeeding rates to at least 50% – targets that South Africa also subscribes to. In South Africa, however, often mothers are poor, unemployed, and hungry – all factors impacting their ability to breastfeed and, ultimately, the nutrition their babies receive. As Women’s Month draws to a close, Refilwe Mochoari looked at the nuances of this challenge in the Free State, where mothers often face a litany of socio-economic challenges and asks how government can support these mothers better.
Even in 2023, infants under five years in the Free State are still dying from a lack of healthy food. From April to June this year, 21 children in the province died of severe acute malnutrition and one died of moderate acute malnutrition. Refilwe Mochoari unpacks the numbers and asks government about its plans to address what at least one expert is calling a ‘crisis’.
The Free State has a new Health MEC – Mathabo Leeto, who is also provincial treasurer of the ANC in the province. She recently replaced Montseng Tsiu. Refilwe Mochoari spoke to Leeto about her plans for the department and asked opposition parties and nursing unions about this move and their expectations for health services in the Free State.
In his first state of the province address, the new Free State Premier Mxolisi Dukwana said the province will no longer be used as the breeding ground for corruption. Refilwe Mochoari asked him about this and the fate of the head of the provincial health department, who is charged with contravening the Public Finance Management Act.
While the Free State health department is denying that clinics in the province are experiencing stockouts of antiretroviral medicines, some healthcare users and HIV activists working in communities claim otherwise. The department does however acknowledge that some people are given only a two-week supply at a time. Refilwe Mochoari reports.
Some healthcare services at Boitumelo Regional Hospital in Kroonstad are hamstrung by construction delays, poor maintenance, and water shortages – despite the hospital being classified as one of the Free State’s ‘ideal hospitals’. Refilwe Mochoari investigates.
A recently published report by the community-led clinic monitoring project, Ritshidze shows that while there have been pockets of improvements at some clinics in the Free State, there are key issues on which facilities’ performance has worsened, especially for people living with HIV. Refilwe Mochoari unpacks the report’s findings zooming in on the situation at Bloemspruit Clinic in Mangaung.
When Free State Health MEC Montseng Tsiu took to the podium in April this year to deliver her budget speech, she said there was an increase in deaths of children under five mostly due to severe acute malnutrition which has increased from 3.1% in the 2020/21 financial year to 9.6% in 2021/22. This meant of all the children admitted to the province’s hospitals for acute malnutrition, 48 died in 2020/21 and 86 in 2021/22. Refilwe Mochoari unpacks the numbers and asked authorities, experts, and community leaders what can be done.
In July this year temperatures in some parts of the Free State dropped as low as minus 8 degrees Celsius while in some hospitals patients were told to bring their own blankets or brace the cold without. Although the provincial health department denies any linen and blanket shortages, Refilwe Mochoari found patients who say otherwise.
Being a midwife is not a career for her, says Sebabatso Tsosane – it’s a calling. Refilwe Mochoari spoke to Tsosane – a midwife, lecturer, and founder of the Free State-based organisation Black Women Arise – about her passion to empower women with knowledge about their sexual and reproductive health as part of Spotlight’s Women in Health series.
There are 83 clinics – down from 153 in 2018/19 – in the Free State with Ideal Clinic status, meaning they have adequate staff, infrastructure, and medicines, among others. For many primary health facilities, this accreditation status is crucial for the National Health Insurance, however, some of these ideal clinics still have various shortcomings. Refilwe Mochoari reports.