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.
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.
Doing ‘the right thing’ for one’s health, be it eating well, exercising, or going for an annual HIV test or blood pressure check, is easier said than done. One way to nudge people to make these ‘right’ decisions is to offer rewards or incentives. Amy Green asks whether aspects of some popular private-sector incentive schemes might be worth copying in South Africa’s public sector.
South Africa’s National Strategic Plan for NCDs sets three key targets related to hypertension that the country has to achieve to reduce the burden of hypertension in the country. Elri Voigt asks experts how South Africa is performing against these targets and where improvement is most needed.
Obesity is a complicated public health issue that can be devastating on both the societal and the individual level. New weight loss medicines have shown remarkable efficacy in clinical trials, but their high cost is limiting uptake. Amy Green asks where these new medicines should fit into South Africa’s response to rising levels of obesity.
It is estimated that around 45% of men and 48% of women older than 15 years have high blood pressure (hypertension) in South Africa and only about 19% of men and 29% of women who have this condition are aware that they have it. Elri Voigt unpacks the state of hypertension in the country and how it is diagnosed and treated.
Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Sihle Zikhalala praised the Umkhanyakude District recently on its ‘exceptional’ figures in meeting the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets. Yet, when Spotlight recently visited the Jozini area, we were confronted with a less rosy picture. Some people stopped their HIV treatment because they do not have food to eat, and activists now warn that the progress with the targets can be derailed if poverty, hunger and other social determinants of health are not urgently and comprehensively addressed. Nomfundo Xolo reports.
Three years ago, public sector cancer services made headlines for failing patients in multiple provinces. A few government interventions later, experts say there have been improvements, but significant issues remain. Elna Schütz reports.
The recent budget policy statement shows South Africa finds itself in a very tight fiscal space where it has to navigate a global pandemic along with other health challenges such as rising rates of non-communicable diseases. Russell Rensburg argues that the Health Promotion Levy should be increased to 20% – which will raise much-needed revenue that will contribute to preventing disease and reducing healthcare costs.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize says South Africa desperately needs to address the increase in the prevalence of Non-Communicable Diseases as measures to address NCDs to date have not had enough of an impact.
Over the years, HIV and the ensuing global epidemic has resulted in millions of deaths. With the advent of antiretroviral therapy, and the advocacy efforts of civil society, HIV-related mortality has significantly decreased, as has mother-to-child transmission.