Several of the world’s most important tuberculosis clinical trials of the last two decades were done in part or entirely in South Africa. Tiyese Jeranji chatted to some leading researchers about where the country’s clinical trial capacity comes from and what is needed to maintain and improve it.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, many committees and organisations were working around the clock to prepare the country for the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. Professor Hannelie Meyer, a pharmacist-turned-academic and later vaccine advocate, served on several of these committees. Elri Voigt spoke to Meyer about the pandemic, the mottos that guide her, and being an unapologetic workaholic.
Almost a decade after they were first proven to be safe and highly effective, game-changing medicines to cure hepatitis C are finally becoming more widely available in South Africa. But not all the regulatory and other challenges behind the delay have yet been overcome and, as a result, access remains relatively limited for now. Catherine Tomlinson reports.
The 11th SA AIDS conference, recently held in Durban, highlighted the worrying fact that key HIV numbers such as treatment coverage are much lower in children than in adults. But as Elri Voigt reports, conference delegates also heard about new treatments and guidelines that will make life easier for kids and the exciting potential of several new long-acting experimental treatments.
Last year Spotlight reported that pilot projects testing out a new HIV prevention injection and a vaginal ring in South Africa would start early in 2023. Yet, as delegates gathered for the SA AIDS Conference in Durban last week, those pilots hadn’t yet started. Alicestine October and Elri Voigt have the latest on the state of play with these critical projects.
Millions of doses of the Pfizer-BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine procured by the South African government have expired and the shot is largely unavailable to people in the country. Meanwhile, earlier this month, the World Health Organization declared an end to the COVID-19 ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. Adele Baleta asks what all this means for COVID-19 in South Africa.
Johannesburg-based investment banker Cheri Nel is the driving force behind a court case that may result in dramatically expanded access to life-changing new cystic fibrosis (CF) medicines. Biénne Huisman asked Nel about the motivation behind the court case and what it is like to live with CF.
In August 2021, the South African Pharmacy Council published legislation in the Government Gazette to enable pharmacists to prescribe and dispense antiretroviral medicines for the treatment and prevention of HIV. A legal challenge then put the brakes on the initiative and the courts are now set to decide whether it can continue. Catherine Tomlinson reports.
South Africa’s recently published guidelines for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) infection have been welcomed by several experts. Among others, the guidelines endorse the use of a three-month course of TB preventive therapy as opposed to the old six-month course. But, while the intention is to roll out the three-month course quite widely, supply constraints may delay things. Tiyese Jeranji reports.
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a debilitating and often deadly disease. Until recently, the only treatments for its symptoms were difficult to administer and time-consuming. Life-changing new treatments that dramatically improve the prognosis for people with the disease have been developed, but they are expensive and Vertex, the US company making the drugs, has decided against registering the drugs in South Africa. Cheri Nel, a woman living with CF, is now taking Vertex on in a South African court. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the details.
Lenalidomide is an important medicine used for the treatment of multiple myeloma – a type of bone marrow cancer that is not curable and typically requires long-term, ongoing treatment. Over the last decade, the price of this drug has fluctuated dramatically in South Africa and patients and their doctors have gone to extreme lengths to access it. Catherine Tomlinson unpacks the remarkable recent history of lenalidomide.
The Department of Health is not planning to buy the new COVID-19 bivalent booster vaccines, specifically tailored to target Omicron variants, anytime soon. Adele Baleta looks into the reasoning behind this decision.