MEDIA RELEASE: Professor Quarraisha Abdool Karim, Associate Scientific Director of CAPRISA (Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa) was bestowed with the Order of Mapungubwe: Bronze by the South African State President on Freedom Day (27 April 2013) in recognition of her “outstanding work in the field of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis research and health policy development.” The Order of Mapungubwe is South Africa’s highest honour.
The HIV/AIDS epidemic arrived in sub-Saharan Africa after decades of neglect had left healthcare systems dangerously weak, barely able to cope with the onslaught of patients. Then the money started pouring in - funding for HIV programmes rose from 5.5 percent of health aid in 1998 to nearly half of it almost 10 years later.
The Gauteng health system remains in disarray, say Section27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), with crises relating to equipment, staff, infrastructure, corruption and mismanagement. They’re giving the provincial department a month to clean up its act, or they’ll go to court to ensure the rights of citizens are met. By GREG NICOLSON.
DESPITE the tight fiscal environment, the health sector will receive additional funding over the medium term to compensate for a drop in US donor support for HIV/AIDS programmes, expand HIV treatment and improve the diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB).
Consolidated government health expenditure is set to rise from R138bn in 2013-14 to R148bn in 2014-15 and R157bn in 2015-16.
An extra R800m has been allocated to the baseline for the provision of antiretroviral drugs over the medium-term expenditure framework, with the government planning to put an extra 500,000 people on treatment each year. Currently, about 2-million people receive treatment.
THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department is to overspend the conditional grant on HIV/Aids by about R300 million at the end of next month, mainly because of higher prices of anti-retroviral drugs.
The department has meanwhile asked for additional funding from the national Department of Health, from savings made by other provinces in the HIV and Aids conditional grant.
The financial expenditure report for the period ending in December, tabled in the health portfolio committee in the KZN Legislature last week, states that the provincial department was allocated R2,2 billion to fight the pandemic in the financial year ending in March.
Motsoaledi was among the speakers at the five-day orientation process for the newly-appointed chief executive officers (CEOs) in the health sector.
“Life expectancy in the country is low, one reason is because of the rate of HIV and Aids,” he said.
He was speaking in reference to the deterioration of the healthcare system and the country’s healthcare facilities.
“As part of our diagnostic programme, in future we want to see people live to the age of 70 and over,” said Motsoaledi.
A total of 102 CEOs were appointed for the posts in central, tertiary, regional and district hospitals and commenced work in the beginning of this month.
High schools in KwaZulu-Natal must immediately begin discussing how to provide pupils with access to condoms and how to facilitate voluntary HIV/Aids testing.
The time for debate on these contentious matters is over, according to provincial Education MEC Senzo Mchunu.
It is a matter of “how” rather than “should or should not” that schools had to figure out.
After thwarting several attempts by the Apartheid government to shut down the facility for its defiance of the Group Areas Act, the McCord Hospital in Durban has finally been defeated by money troubles and will be closing its doors in March. By KHADIJA PATEL.
The McCord Hospital in Durban is a 103-year-old institution; home to the country’s biggest HIV care and treatment programme. It is also one of KwaZulu-Natal’s largest hospitals, with 140 beds and 400 staff. Yet it is set to close its doors in March.
Last year, a cutback in international funding forced the hospital to close its HIV/Aids clinic and now, the government is also withholding funds to the semi-private hospital.
THE death rate among employees of companies that bought risk cover from Old Mutual fell almost 20% between 2008 and 2011 — a decline that came as the government’s drive to get more HIV patients on treatment gathered pace.
Research by the financial services company, released on Wednesday, is consistent with the findings of a study published last year by the Medical Research Council which found life expectancy to have risen to 60 years in 2011, up from 56.5 years in 2009 as fewer people died of AIDS.
Old Mutual’s findings also tally with the latest UNAIDS Global Report, which estimated that sub-Saharan Africa had seen a 25% reduction in new HIV infections between 2001 and 2011. UNAIDS is the joint United Nations Agency on HIV/AIDS.
The Medicines Control Council (MCC) has granted patients with extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) access to Johnson & Johnson’s experimental drug bedaquiline, even though it has yet to be registered in South Africa.
The death rate for patients with XDR-TB relying on current treatments is about 80%, according to Helen Cox, an epidemiologist with Médecins Sans Frontières in Cape Town.
The development follows an intense campaign by local activists and doctors, who have argued the drug represents the last hope for patients who do not respond to treatment. South Africa has one of the world’s highest numbers of patients with drug-resistant TB, fuelled by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.