Public health emergencies place immense power in the hands of executive leadership. This can pose a risk of creeping authoritarianism. Professor Narnia Bohler-Muller and Dr Benjamin Roberts explore the lessons that can be drawn from the findings of the University of Johannesburg and the Human Sciences Research Council’s online survey on the public’s views on lockdown regulations.
Following a decline in childhood immunisations during the COVID-19 hard lockdown last year, a nationwide catch-up drive was launched in November. Government is not sharing all the data on how the drive is going, but the data that we have been able to access shows that some important catch-up targets are being missed.
From March to July this year, the Gauteng Department of Health recorded 57 848 TB tests – a decrease of about 30 000 tests compared to the same period last year. The province performed better with HIV testing, although the HIV response has faltered in other areas. Melissa Javan makes sense of the province’s numbers and speaks to activists and community health workers about the impact of lockdown on their services and plans to get things back on track.
While South Africa is doing well on some of the UNAIDS HIV targets for 2020, one target we are set to miss is ensuring that 90% of people diagnosed with HIV are on antiretroviral therapy. Partly in response to this problem, the ‘Welcome back’ campaign started by Doctors without Borders aims to make it easier for people who have stopped taking treatment to restart. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
If South Africa is forced to go into a COVID-19 lockdown again, HIV support groups and adherence clubs should remain functional to make sure that everyone is supported, has regular access to information and treatment, and that people are motivated to adhere to treatment, argue Annah Maluleke and Solanga Milambo.
Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) has been shown to reduce the risk of female-to-male HIV transmission by 60%. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown, health authorities and organisations conducting VMMC in South Africa, say the numbers of men and boys being medically circumcised have dropped dramatically. Siyabonga Kamnqa reports.
Over 7 million caregivers and 13 million children have been plunged deeper into poverty as payouts of the R500 caregiver grant ended in October. While this top-up was discontinued, the COVID-19 Special Relief of Distress grant which reaches an estimated 6 million people was extended. In the final article of a six-part series on child hunger, Kathryn Cleary speaks to mothers, children and experts about the implications of these decisions about grants.
After not receiving any government food parcels, one Western Cape farming community pulled together to provide their own COVID-19 relief. In the fifth article of a six-part series on child hunger, Kathryn Cleary spoke to a few women from Elsenburg who have distributed their own food parcels and started soup kitchens to feed hungry children and families in their community.
For over 9 million learners across the country, school meals are a lifeline, but this came to a grinding halt during the hard COVID-19 lockdown period. As a result, many learners became dependent on soup kitchens and donations. In the fourth part of a six-part series on child hunger and nutrition, Kathryn Cleary speaks to learners about how they were affected and how some organisations are fighting for improvements.
Food is not the only thing needed to end child hunger and malnutrition. Another invisible nutrient is love. In the second of a six-part series focussing on child hunger, Kathryn Cleary speaks to a 19-year-old about his battle against the vicious cycle of hunger and poverty in the Eastern Cape.
As Health Minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize’s proposed amendments to regulations on notifiable medical conditions came under fire in Parliament this week, some public health and medical law experts welcomed the proposed amendments to the regulations and even made some suggestions on how it could be improved. Alicestine October took an in-depth look at what is at stake.
As South Africa prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals had to come up with plans to deal with the expected influx of COVID-19 patients. Part of this plan was that hospitals would minimise or temporarily put elective procedures on hold. Now, with the country at alert level 1 of its lockdown, Tiyese Jeranji looks at how four provinces are again phasing in elective procedures.