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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The good doctor: Mark Blaylock on finding meaning back at Manguzi

In December 2008, Dr Mark Blaylock left South Africa after a high-profile spat with then-Health MEC of KwaZulu-Natal Peggy Nkonyeni. The affair was sparked by Blaylock’s colleague Colin Pfaff being charged with misconduct for sourcing funding for antiretroviral drugs for pregnant women living with HIV. Four years later, Blaylock was back at Manguzi District Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. Sue Segar chatted to Blaylock about his years outside of South Africa, returning to Manguzi, and how healthcare in KwaZulu-Natal has changed over the years.

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In-Depth: Mpumalanga’s healthcare worker shortage and what is being done about it

There are over 100 clinics in Mpumalanga without visiting doctors, hundreds waiting on surgeries in hospitals due to a lack of surgeons and other specialists, and only 60 working ambulances meant to service a population of over four million healthcare users. Nthusang Lefafa unpacks these challenges and asks the province’s health department about its plans.

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OPINION: Oral health services for persons with special needs still lacking

While there is relatively good access to preventative and promotive oral healthcare services in the country, it does not go far enough to address the vast oral health-related issues that persons with disabilities present with, writes Dr Bulela Vava. If the government is to truly care for the oral health needs of persons with special needs, it will have to take bold steps to invest in building the requisite secondary and tertiary oral health service capacity.

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Analysis: Are NGOs doing the work of the state, and should they?

People in South Africa are used to reports of organisations like Gift of the Givers stepping in during humanitarian emergencies, or service delivery NGOs assisting with HIV or tuberculosis programmes. But is there not a risk of the state becoming overly dependent on NGOs, and might this not mask state failure and thereby undermine democratic accountability? Sue Segar explores this question with the help of some high-profile NGO leaders.

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Breathing easier: How Madwaleni Hospital started producing its own oxygen

During the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, oxygen was a lifesaving consumable, but in many remote rural areas of the Eastern Cape, logistical challenges such as poor roads and long distances made distribution difficult. A group of doctors and engineers, however, developed a sustainable lifeline in the form of an oxygen generator at Madwaleni Hospital. Luvuyo Mehlwana reports.

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OPINION: Mid-term budget fails to show the way to a more resilient recovery

The Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) was tabled amid a grim global economic outlook and a climate of increasing political uncertainty, electricity supply challenges, and very high unemployment. Russell Rensburg argues the MTBPS fails to provide a credible path toward a resilient recovery and sets out what can be done to strengthen governance and build social solidarity around the recovery we need.

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Analysis: Making access to surgical care a reality in district hospitals

Earlier this year, Spotlight published a two-part series on the human cost of surgery waiting times and asked what could be done about it. One such solution proposed by some is to devolve less complicated surgical care procedures to district hospitals. The AfroSurg3 Conference held in September, which brought together surgical stakeholders from 11 African countries to improve access to care, shed some light on how this might work. Alicestine October reports.

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Rural Doctor of the Year: Craig Parker – the doctor-engineer who created a COVID lifeline for rural areas

A trained engineer and medical doctor, Dr Craig Parker created an oxygen device that was an important lifeline to patients in rural Eastern Cape at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month at the Rural Health Conference in Oudtshoorn, Parker received the Rural Doctor of the Year Award for 2022. Bienne Huisman chatted to Parker about the device and his life as a rural doctor.

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