2023 was a busy year for healthcare in South Africa. We saw several promising policy developments, landmark court cases, important pieces of legislation, and some changes in leadership. Yet, take a step back and at facility level little seems to have changed. Shortages of healthcare workers persist, corruption is still rife, budgets tight, and our health governance crisis remains as acute as ever. Marcus Low looks back at the year in health in fewer than 1 000 words.
Research suggests that people living with HIV are more likely to have mental health conditions than the general population. There seems to be consensus that HIV programmes would benefit from including better mental health screening and support services. Two new policy documents – the Mental Health Policy Framework and the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB, and STIs – have a lot to say about providing such integrated services, but will they result in actual changes on the ground? Thabo Molelekwa reports.
South Africa’s long-awaited new National Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2023 – 2030 has been published. The previous policy framework expired in 2020. Thabo Molelekwa spoke to Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, and several mental health experts about the new policy framework.
An HIV prevention injection approved in South Africa, several promising developments on the tuberculosis front, the National Health Insurance Bill grinding its way through Parliament, no end in sight to healthcare worker shortages, another dire year for health in Gauteng – Spotlight wraps up 2022 in under 1 000 words.
In recent years there have been various reports with damning findings on the state of mental healthcare services in the Eastern Cape. Luvuyo Mehlwana and Alicestine October assess what has and what hasn’t changed after recommendations from the Public Protector, the Health Ombud, the PSC, and the HSRC, and almost as many undertakings in response by the Eastern Cape Department of Health.
Once widely hailed, South Africa’s Mental Health Policy Framework and Strategic Plan 2013 – 2020 lapsed last year, with mixed reviews on its implementation from mental healthcare stakeholders. The National Department of Health now says the revised and updated Policy Framework and Plan will be in place in the next financial year. Tiyese Jeranji spoke to experts and activists about what the lapsed policy framework achieved and what to improve.
Studies have shown that the rate of mental health problems, such as suicidality, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress, increase after natural disasters. Mbalenhle Baduza unpacks the findings of a recent report by the Centre for Environmental Rights on the psychological and mental health consequences of climate change in South Africa.
Globally it is estimated that around one in five to one in ten children and adolescents are affected by mental health disorders. In South Africa, the numbers are highly uncertain, particularly at provincial level, where hardly any data is being gathered. Research suggests that a lack of intersectoral collaboration has resulted in children falling through the cracks – so much so that one expert now says South Africa is completely unable to meet the mental health needs of its children. Tiyese Jeranji investigates.
Over 30% of those living in South Africa have experienced a depressive, anxiety, or substance use disorder in their lifetime, according to a national survey. Yet studies show only 15% of those with mental health conditions receive treatment. Laura Owings explores what role community healthcare workers can play in addressing this lack of access to care.