Whether it is in the queue outside a community healthcare clinic, in a GP’s waiting room, or in the ICU at a private sector hospital, infections acquired at healthcare facilities pose a threat to people’s health. Nthusang Lefafa looks at government’s recently relaunched infection prevention and control plans and some obstacles to its implementation.
It wasn’t rocket science when we predicted at the start of 2021 that South Africa’s biggest challenge this year would be to get COVID-19 shots into as many arms as possible. But the way it has played out with multiple setbacks and scrambling problem-solving is not something anyone could have predicted. In fewer than a thousand words, Spotlight editor Marcus Low takes a look back at a tumultuous year in health in South Africa.
The top priority in our HIV programme should be to make it as easy as possible for people to start and stay on treatment. Yet, as a number of provincial reports released this year by community monitoring group Ritshidze have shown, there are many healthcare system factors that work directly against this objective. Spotlight editor Marcus Low considers some of the potential solutions.
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.
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.
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.
A 36-year-old mother living with HIV from Thabong in Welkom in the Free State is among the many millions of people in South Africa who rely on public healthcare services. Also, like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated disruptions have left her in a constant struggle with anxiety. Refilwe Mochoari asks what mental health services are available to people in the Free State who depend on the public healthcare system.
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.
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.
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.
As World Sight Day approaches on 14 October, Gauteng faces the damning reality that thousands of cataract patients are waiting up to two years to receive the simple life-changing surgery. Ufrieda Ho reports.
While it is still unclear what caused the fire at the Christiana Hospital in the North West last week, residents are concerned about what this means for their health needs. Millions of rands’ worth of infrastructure upgrades were destroyed by a fire that left a big part of the hospital in ruins. Nthusang Lefafa reports.