IN A break with the Department of Health’s historically tense relationship with the private sector, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has entered into a "social compact" with the CEOs of leading healthcare companies.
He has committed to regular meetings with the CEOs, who have in turn pledged money for a Public Health Enhancement Fund to tackle the skills shortages facing the healthcare sector, and improve the management of HIV and tuberculosis.
A total of R40m has been promised for the first year from 23 companies representing drug manufacturers, diagnostics companies, private hospitals, pharmacies, medical scheme administrators, distributors and pharmacy benefit managers.
It is one of the most scenic regions in the Western Cape and home to some of the province’s wealthy, but this means nothing to many residents of Eden district as they battle with social ills and poor access to health care.
About 85 percent of the region’s population have no medical insurance and depend solely on public health care for services.
The district – which includes the southern Cape towns of George, Mossel Bay, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, Oudtshoorn and parts of the little Karoo – is home to more than 500 000 people.
THE Treasury is planning to increase the amount of money available to the public-health sector in next year’s budget, despite the tight fiscal environment.
The medium-term budget policy statement shaved R1.3bn off the total noninterest government expenditure allocated to the current fiscal year, bringing it down to R878.7bn, and left the projected budget for the next two years unchanged at R953bn and R1.03-trillion, respectively.
Many sectors have been forced to make savings, but provincial health departments were spared as the effect on service delivery would have been too great, said the Treasury’s chief director for health and social development, Dr Mark Blecher.
The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is a global nonprofit health organisation that strengthens integrated health systems in the developing world and expands access to care and treatment for HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.
While it was revealed recently that the United States and European drug regulators are pulling out all the stops to register bedaquiline, or TMC207, the South African Medicines Control Council (MCC) has shown no intention of following suit, according to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
Many other countries with stringent regulations on drug safety - including France and the United Kingdom - are already providing bedaquiline under compassionate use regulations, despite the fact that they have far less patients.
MSF earlier sought commitment from the MCC to allow expanded access to the drug and hope that they will similarly fast-track the review process which could see the registration of the first new TB drug in over 50 years.
Scientists have found an alarming number of cases of the lung disease tuberculosis in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America that are resistant to up to four powerful antibiotic drugs.
In a large international study published in the Lancet medical journal on Thursday, researchers found rates of both multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB) were higher than previously thought and were threatening global efforts to curb the spread of the disease.
The state has to be held accountable for its failure to limit the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in prisons, the Constitutional Court heard on Tuesday.
TB is South Africa’s biggest killer and thrives in badly ventilated, overcrowded conditions. In South Africa’s understaffed prisons, where overcrowding can reach more than 200%, research has shown a 90% risk of transmission.
The outcome of this case will affect prisoners’ chances of successfully suing the minister if they get TB in prison.
SA government policy gets support from researchers at UCT and University of East Anglia, who identify nurses as preferred health providers for ART programmes.
Press Release: Nurse-centred care of HIV patients can be just as safe and effective as care delivered by doctors and has a number of specific health benefits, according to a new study led by the University of Cape Town (UCT) and University of East Anglia (UEA).
The price of a rapid diagnostic test, which slashes the time to reach a diagnosis for the most common drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis, has almost been halved - including in South Africa.
The United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), UNITAID, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced an agreement that will significantly reduce the cost of the rapid TB diagnostic test Xpert MTB/RIF in 145 high-burden and developing countries.
Heavy drinkers are three times more likely to have tuberculosis than those who don’t drink heavily. They are also far less likely to complete their TB treatment. This is according to Professor Charles Parry of the Medical Research Council, who believes that TB patients should be screened for alcohol abuse and educated about its dangers.
“Heavy alcohol use is a risk factor for an impaired immune system and increases a person’s susceptibility to active TB infection and reactivation of latent disease,” Parry told the third South African TB conference yesterday.