Scores of state patients living with HIV are in danger of dying after a myriad of problems saw the Mthatha Medical Deport unable to dispense antiretrovirals for a number of weeks.
In a hard hitting report, Emergency Intervention at Mthatha Depot – The hidden cost of inaction, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP), SECTION27 and the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC), document some of the universal reasons for the crisis that is crippling parts of the South Africa’s public health system.
Silicosis might appear only 15 years after exposure to gold ore dust, long after they have gone home. Heidi Swart reports.
They called them the radium girls – five factory workers who sued a company that produced glow-in-the-dark radioactive paint because it knowingly exposed them to radiation poisoning.
The United States Radium Corporation operated from 1917 until late 1926 in Orange, New Jersey. The company employed women to paint watch dials that were sold to the country's military services to help soldiers to keep track of time at night in the trenches of World War I.
From drug shortages to new developments in HIV research, 2012 was a year that exposed the shortcomings of the South African healthcare system but also revealed the country’s potential.
The past year was eventful for health. It ended on a high note and set the bar for 2013.
There is no question that Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi and his team will be working around the clock to build on advances made in the previous year and tackle the prevailing challenges in the sector.
One of the big announcements in health came at the end of December, when the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first TB drug in almost 50 years.
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.
In the early 90s when South Africa's Themba Lethu clinic could only treat HIV/Aids patients for opportunistic diseases, many would come in on wheelchairs and keep coming to the health centre until they died.
Two decades later the clinic is the biggest anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment centre in the country and sees between 600 to 800 patients a day from all over southern Africa.
Based on the principle that social accountability is enabled through participation by an empowered civil society that demands efficiency and transparency, the three-year journey of a South African Budget Monitoring and Expenditure Tracking (BMET) project demonstrates that citizen involvement in economic governance is both possible and progressing.
Conducted by the Centre for Economic Governance and AIDS in Africa (CEGAA) in partnership with the Treatment Action Campaign, the BMET project is funded by the Open Society Institute - New York (OSI-NY), Open Society Foundation for South Africa (OSF-SA) and International Budget Partnership (IBP).
Even though it’s preventable and treatable, tuberculosis (TB) is a top ten killer of children worldwide.
ACTION has released its second brief on children and TB, issuing recommendations for the international community and affected countries to combat this neglected epidemic.
Since ACTION released its first Childhood TB brief last year, the global community has paid attention.
But we need to keep the momentum going. Children are still misdiagnosed, unaccounted for, and lack access to appropriate pediatric TB drugs.
South Africa grants almost every patent application it receives, making its patent regime one of the world’s most lenient. While pharmaceutical companies cash in, patients face staggering healthcare costs, and medicines like cancer treatments, third-line antiretrovirals (ARVs) and treatments for drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) are often priced out of reach.
One-year contract appointment with possible extension