In-depth: How are depression and bipolar disorder treated in the public sector?

It is estimated that “one in ten adults living in South Africa will have experienced major clinical depression at some point in their life but only 25% have sought treatment and care for their mental conditions, such as depression”. Although these estimates are based on the South African Stress and Health (SASH) study, last done in 2009, subsequent studies have stressed the significant challenge of reducing this treatment gap in the country. Elri Voigt asks how conditions like major depression and bipolar disorder are diagnosed and treated in the public sector in South Africa.

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Life Esidimeni Inquest: Journal of a grieving sister

The Life Esidimeni Inquest that started in July has been postponed until 15 November. This is the fifth postponement, meaning another agonising wait for family members of the deceased. The Inquest is crucial to determine who should be held criminally liable for the deaths of 144 mental healthcare users in 2016. Here one family member, Christine Nxumalo, shares in her own words some extracts from her journal on the Inquest proceedings, the long wait, and dealing with grief.

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Opinion: WHO numbers underscore urgent need for stronger leadership and ambitious TB recovery plan

According to new estimates from the World Health Organization around 61 000 people died of TB in South Africa in 2020, an increase of around 5% over 2019. That works out to over 1 100 TB deaths in the country every week. We urgently need a transparent TB recovery plan and we need both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Health Minister Joe Phaahla to invest real political capital in the implementation of the plan, the authors argue.

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In-depth: Does SA have a diabetes testing problem?

Though the numbers are relatively uncertain, it is estimated that between four and five million people in South Africa are living with diabetes. One reason for the uncertainty is a lack of testing. A lack of testing also means that many people get diagnosed too late in the course of the disease. Elri Voigt asks what we do and do not know about diabetes in the country and what should be done about it.

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LIFE ESIDIMENI INQUEST: A Recap on its progress and what to expect  

The ongoing judicial inquest into the deaths of mental healthcare users during the Life Esidimeni tragedy in 2016, has again been postponed this week. It is the fifth time the proceedings have been postponed since the inquest started in July this year, signalling that there is still a long road ahead for determining any criminal accountability for these deaths. Julia Chaskalson takes stock of the progress so far and what to expect in the months ahead.

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Human resource issues at root of Free State health problems, report suggests

Shortages of healthcare workers are contributing to long waiting times at healthcare facilities, poor treatment adherence, and are undermining the response to HIV and tuberculosis (TB) in the Free State, findings in a new report show. Refilwe Mochoari attended the launch of the report and asked the Free State Department of Health for its response.

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Efforts to vaccinate the homeless stumbling over red tape

South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination programme currently requires that people enter an identity number when registering on government’s electronic system and present an identity document when they go to get jabbed. This makes it hard for homeless people without IDs to get vaccinated. Siyabonga Kamnqa reports from the streets of Cape Town.

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