Opinion: We can’t simply close dental facilities during the festive period

The closure of some public sector oral health clinics in the Eastern Cape over the festive period is deeply concerning, having left some patients with nowhere to go. A comprehensive plan must be put in place for efficient management and referral of emergency oral healthcare cases during this time and we must ensure that people who need the services are aware of how to access them, argues Dr Bulela Vava.

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Arsenic-contaminated drinking water found in two SA villages: scientists blame government mismanagement 

A study published in April this year found that residents across two villages in Limpopo’s Giyani local municipality have dangerous amounts of arsenic in their drinking water. Attempts to improve access to safe water in the area appear to have been derailed by alleged corruption. Jesse Copelyn unpacks the risks of excessive arsenic exposure and what is known about the alleged corruption in Giyani.

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Face to Face: Professor Soraya Seedat on the ‘workings of the brain’ and the realities of psychiatry in SA

Professor Soraya Seedat is a distinguished professor and head of Stellenbosch University’s psychiatry department. She has penned several hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters on psychiatric disorders, with a focus on PTSD and anxiety, particularly among children and in resource-constrained settings. Biénne Huisman sat down with her to talk about her work, what drives her, and maintaining a work-life equilibrium.

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FACE TO FACE: Prof Naeemah Abrahams on breaking feminist stereotypes and “fighting through research and analyses”

Professor Naeemah Abrahams, who heads the SAMRC’s Gender and Health Unit has been working in the field of gender-based violence (GBV) for thirty years. Activism always underpinned her research, which has focused on post-rape care, intimate partner femicide, and the interface between GBV and HIV. Biénne Huisman sat down with her to talk about her work, her feminism, and getting men to interrogate their perceptions of masculinity.

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OPINION: Underinvestment in healthcare infrastructure will cost us in the long run

Investment in public health facilities is crucial as the country weathers storms on various fronts – from drought (water shortages) and flooding putting strain on health infrastructure to a harsh economic climate that makes private healthcare unaffordable to more and more people. Mbali Baduza and Matshidiso Lencoasa assess the investments in infrastructure in the budget and what it means for the planned National Health Insurance system.

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OPINION: The billions allocated for infrastructure require more progressive procurement systems and oversight

Spending on public sector infrastructure over the 2023 medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) is estimated at R903 billion and the health sector accounts for 5% of this. The well-documented poor maintenance and oversight of projects, also in the health sector, will require close monitoring of trends across the public sector, particularly where procurement and contracting is concerned, writes Zukiswa Kota.

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Opinion: Changing the law on sex work will save lives, we must see it through

In December 2022, the Minister of Justice, Ronald Lamola, set into motion a public participation process on the laws that govern sex work in South Africa. Marlise Richter & Pamela Chakuvinga point out that while the Bill published for public comment in December is very short, it will do something quite extraordinary if it does become law – it will fully decriminalise sex work. This, they argue, is a process we must see through.

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Face to Face: Prof Helen Rees on SAHPRA, women’s rights, and her appetite for justice

As a rebellious teenager growing up in the British town of Harpenden, Professor Helen Rees would sneak out to attend anti-apartheid talks. Today, she is a renowned scientist and chair of South Africa’s medicines regulator. Biénne Huisman chatted to Rees about her career, prioritising women’s reproductive health, and her role at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority.

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