EDITORIAL: Spotlight on mental health

EDITORIAL: Spotlight on mental health

In the spirit of mental health awareness month this October, Spotlight will publish a mental health special series in the coming weeks. This is what you can expect.

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Interview: Kenneth Jacobs, new chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health

Interview: Kenneth Jacobs, new chair of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health

Dr Kenneth Jacobs was elected chairperson of the National Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Health last month. Biénne Huisman chatted to Jacobs about National Health Insurance, the role of Parliament, working with the Stormers rugby team, and his own background and journey to serving as chair of such an important parliamentary committee.

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In-depth: What happens to people in SA who have rare diseases?

In-depth: What happens to people in SA who have rare diseases?

Little is known about the number of people in South Africa who are living with rare diseases. In fact, there is no recognised definition for rare disease in the country, contributing to inadequate record-keeping and very little data on prevalence, treatment options, and support structures. Laura Owings reports.

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How well is SA’s chronic medicines distribution system working?

How well is SA’s chronic medicines distribution system working?

Having to collect one’s medicines at overcrowded public sector clinics with long queues can be time-consuming, disruptive, and, these days, may expose one to a risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. Thabo Molelekwa takes stock of South Africa’s centralised chronic medicines dispensing and distribution programme, the Department of Health’s system for allowing more people to collect their chronic medicines closer to their homes or workplaces.

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Assessing Dr Zweli Mkhize’s two years as Health Minister

Assessing Dr Zweli Mkhize’s two years as Health Minister

Last night President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Dr Zweli Mkhize had resigned as South Africa’s Minister of Health after eight weeks on special leave. Although Mkhize will primarily be remembered for the Digital Vibes scandal that caused his downfall, a lot more happened over the last two years. Spotlight editor Marcus Low asks what we can learn from Mkhize’s time as health minister and tries to make sense of some of the contradictions.

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What SA’s COVID-19 experience tells us about NHI

What SA’s COVID-19 experience tells us about NHI

For all the suffering and death the COVID-19 pandemic has caused over the last 12 months, it has arguably also provided a unique opportunity to test some of the mechanisms behind South Africa’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) system. The centralised procurement of vaccines and the contracting of doctors, for example, are probably not dissimilar from the arrangements we might see under NHI. Kathryn Cleary asks three leading health experts what lessons, for NHI, we should learn from the COVID-19 response.

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Opinion: Health budget slashed despite vaccine commitments

Opinion: Health budget slashed despite vaccine commitments

The national budget tabled this week shows that planned spending on public health is reduced by a massive R50.3 billion over the next three years. We cannot accept a vaccine versus health system trade-off. Government must both expedite the procurement of vaccines and ensure that provinces have the staff and other capabilities to rapidly roll them out and to maintain and improve the quality of healthcare services, argue writers from SECTION27.

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SA is facing a healthcare worker crisis – What to do?

SA is facing a healthcare worker crisis – What to do?

Many healthcare workers are rightly identified as heroes of South Africa’s COVID-19 response. Yet, often healthcare workers are given very little support in the public healthcare system, something that may get worse as healthcare worker shortages get more acute in the coming years. Kathryn Cleary investigates.

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