EDITORIAL: With elections and NHI, this is a big year for healthcare in SA

South Africa is barrelling towards its most consequential and most competitive national and provincial elections since 1994. Spotlight editor Marcus Low asks what is on the line in these elections from a healthcare perspective and argues that the stakes are particularly high when it comes to NHI and the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provincial health departments.

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Opinion: This is how SA can meet its HIV targets

To respond to the call to end AIDS by 2030, Dr Yogan Pillay argues it is firstly critical to agree on what we mean by ending AIDS. Secondly, he suggests it is important to have accurate and granular data that can inform a more targeted approach to reaching those people that the health system typically does not reach.

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Integrating HIV and NCD care is critical but not straight-forward, clinicians say

With the remarkable success of antiretroviral treatment people living with HIV in South Africa are generally living much longer than they did two decades ago. As a result, more people with HIV are also now living with non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes and hypertension. Accordingly, the need to better integrate HIV and NCD services was a hot topic at the recent Southern African HIV Clinicians Society conference in Cape Town. Elri Voigt reports.

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Opinion: SA can’t afford proposed cuts to HIV funding

National Treasury has proposed a R1 billion cut to HIV funding. This has come about because – rather than seeing the reduced price of antiretroviral treatment as an opportunity to scale up treatment coverage and strengthen other interventions to address the HIV epidemic – the Department of Health has seen it as an opportunity for cost-containment. However, the HIV epidemic is not over and savings owing to cost reductions should not simply be returned to Treasury, argue Matshidiso Lencoasa and Mila Harding.

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Interview: From a pig farm in Zim to star HIV researcher- Prof LGB reflects on her remarkable journey

Inside Professor Linda-Gail Bekker’s office a bookshelf is stacked with titles on general medicine, HIV and tuberculosis. Against the bookshelf, a mannequin leans dressed in a white doctor’s coat, sparkling tiara and pink Venetian mask, with a stethoscope protruding from her pocket. Known to colleagues as LGB, Bekker is one of South Africa’s top HIV researchers. Biénne Huisman chatted to Bekker about her remarkable career, finding new ways to reach young people, her love of both art and science and the thinking behind the slogan “get ripped, get prepped”.

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In-depth: What new WHO TB numbers mean for SA

An estimated 54 000 people died of tuberculosis in South Africa in 2022 and around 280 000 fell ill with the disease, according to just-released figures from the World Health Organization. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the figures and what they mean for the country’s TB response.

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Free State bottom of the list when it comes to multi-month dispensing of ARVs, survey finds

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.

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OPINION: A new African HIV Control Working Group to propel African voices in the global HIV response

It is estimated that over 65% of the global HIV burden is in sub-Saharan Africa. Now, in an attempt to propel African voices and perspectives in the next phase of the HIV response in Africa, a group of Africans established an African-led HIV control working group (HCWG). They are all experts from the continent who have come together to develop consensus perspectives on the long-term sustained control of HIV and prioritise the systems and capabilities to achieve it. Drs Yogan Pillay and Izukanji Sikazwe explain the thinking behind the new working group and set out their objectives.

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The good doctor: Mark Blaylock on finding meaning back at Manguzi

In December 2008, Dr Mark Blaylock left South Africa after a high-profile spat with then-Health MEC of KwaZulu-Natal Peggy Nkonyeni. The affair was sparked by Blaylock’s colleague Colin Pfaff being charged with misconduct for sourcing funding for antiretroviral drugs for pregnant women living with HIV. Four years later, Blaylock was back at Manguzi District Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Sue Segar chatted to Blaylock about his years outside of South Africa, returning to Manguzi, and how healthcare in KwaZulu-Natal has changed over the years.

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