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.
Over the last decade, the National Health Department has rolled out a range of electronic surveillance systems to monitor medicine stocks throughout the country’s healthcare facilities, but stockouts persist due to a host of ongoing challenges. Jesse Copelyn takes a closer look at what is being done to ensure that our clinics and pharmacies do not run out of important medicines.
According to the latest report from community-based clinic monitoring group Ritshidze, users of public sector health facilities in Mpumalanga are experiencing shorter waiting times, cleaner facilities, and extended antiretroviral refills compared to previous years. But Ritshidze also reports ongoing staff shortages, problematic staff attitudes, and problems with infrastructure. Nthusang Lefafa unpacks the new findings and asks the province’s health department what they are planning in response.
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.
Despite some improvement, the community-led monitoring group Ritshidze’s second report on key populations highlights that sex workers, people who use drugs and LGBTQIA+ community members are often still discriminated against when trying to access public health facilities. This can lead to treatment interruptions and some stopping their clinic visits. Nthusang Lefafa reports.
South Africa is seeing fewer medication stockouts than in previous years but contraception shortages continue to be a problem in the country, according to a new report from the Stop Stockouts Project. Injectables, the most widely used method in South Africa, accounted for three-quarters of contraception stockouts reported. Aisha Abdool Karim unpacks what this means for women’s sexual and reproductive health.
The AIDS2022 conference held recently in Montreal, Canada highlighted yet again the need for community activism and the importance of involving young people, writes Dr Yogan Pillay. He argues that the youth and communities must be engaged in the conceptualisation and writing of South Africa’s new AIDS plan, and young people and community-based organisations must have a central role in key aspects of its implementation.
The community-led clinic monitoring project, Ritshidze last week, released its follow-up report on the state of (primary) healthcare in Mpumalanga. There were some improvements, but patients are still waiting over four hours to be seen at some clinics. Nthusang Lefafa unpacks some of the report’s findings and asked the health department about its plans to address these shortcomings.
On a scorching summer day, Siyabonga Kamnqa sat down to listen to the stories of some frustrated gogos and mkhulus waiting to collect their chronic medicines at the busy All Saints Hospital in the rural town of Ngcobo in the Eastern Cape. He then asked the province’s health department about its plans for getting medicines to people in rural areas.
People who belong to key populations, such as men who have sex with men, often report that it is difficult for them to access health services – for example, due to negative healthcare worker attitudes. Now, a large survey published last week by community healthcare monitoring group Ritshidze provides important statistics that not only confirm that such experiences are widespread but also help in pinning down some specific issues. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
While KwaZulu-Natal is doing comparatively well on key HIV indicators, the public healthcare system in the province is plagued by staff shortages, long waiting times, poor tuberculosis infection control, and in some cases, dysfunctional filing systems. This is according to a new report from community-led monitoring group Ritshidze. Elri Voigt reports.
Findings of a clinic monitoring report released last week, again highlighted how delivery of health services in the Eastern Cape are hamstrung by staff and medicine shortages. Luvuyo Mehlwana unpacks the data and the provincial health department’s plans to address the challenges identified in the report.