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.
For businesses and households that can afford it, solar panels and batteries offer a way to keep the lights on during South Africa’s ongoing bouts of loadshedding. Such technologies may also offer a solution for healthcare facilities, where a reliable energy supply can be a matter of life and death. Nthusang Lefafa spoke to stakeholders and experts in the public and private health sectors about the promise of solar energy to mitigate the impact of loadshedding on health services.
Public healthcare facilities in the North West have been plagued by chronic medicines stockouts for years. Now, as the province’s health department is again taking the reins after four years under administration by the National Department of Health, Nthusang Lefafa asks what progress has or has not been made in that most basic of healthcare functions, providing people with the medicines they need.
The North West Health Department was placed under administration in 2018 following several governance failures and allegations of fraud and corruption that resulted in widespread service delivery protests. Now, almost four years later as the period under administration is set to come to an end, Nthusang Lefafa asks what has improved under administration and what has not.
Hours waiting for emergency medical services, medicine shortages, high travel costs, and long walking distances to clinics. These are some of the issues rural communities in the North West face when trying to access healthcare services. Meanwhile, expensive mobile clinics purchased from the Gupta-linked Mediosa are gathering dust. Nthusang Lefafa spoke to community members in some of these rural communities and the provincial health authorities.
The sudden closure of Thusong District Hospital in the North West has left healthcare workers and patients confused and frustrated with some patients still turning up at the hospital gates, not knowing where to go for medication and other healthcare services. Nthusang Lefafa reports.
The North West has passed the one million mark for COVID-19 jabs administered. Nthusang Lefafa unpacks the vaccination numbers, reasons for the province having some of the lowest vaccination numbers in the country, and how it is working to catch up.
While it is still unclear what caused the fire at the Christiana Hospital in the North West last week, residents are concerned about what this means for their health needs. Millions of rands’ worth of infrastructure upgrades were destroyed by a fire that left a big part of the hospital in ruins. Nthusang Lefafa reports.
Stockouts of essential medicines have been a problem in North West province for years. Now, a new community monitoring report suggests many people are still being turned away from public sector clinics without treatment or asked to come back a week later. Thabo Molelekwa spoke to the people behind the report and asked the North West Department of Health for their response to it.
The exit of Doctors without Borders’ (MSF) rape crisis support in the North West province during the COVID-19 pandemic arguably could not come at a worse time. Is the North West’s Department of Health ready to take over these services? Ufrieda Ho reports.
The recent suspension of Professor Ebrahim Variava and the subsequent lifting of his suspension briefly placed the North West Department of Health in the national spotlight – a department that has been under administration for over two years. Marcus Low asks whether the latest developments are just a blip on the department’s road to recovery, or are they symptomatic of still deeply entrenched dysfunction.
The controversial suspension of one of the North West province’s senior clinicians two weeks ago, has been lifted with Professor Ebrahim Variava returning to his post as head of internal medicine at the Klerksdorp Tshepong Hospital in North West.