The overall goal of the HealthLink cluster is to disseminate knowledge. This is undertaken through the strategic use, analysis and distribution of health and related information to enhance evidence-based management. HealthLink is also involved in advocacy and equity projects which serve to improve the quality and availability of reliable information and support the implementation of the National Strategic Plan.
HIV is thought to have a kill rate of close to 100%, higher than even the notorious haemorrhagic diseases such as Ebola. But, unlike such virulent attackers, HIV kills its hosts through a steadily attrition of the immune system, giving ample time for new infections to occur. The result is a slow-burning epidemic steadily destroying lives and eroding South Africa's development potential. HIV/AIDS was regarded as effectively untreatable in South Africa. The drugs were too expensive: Supreme Court of Appeal Judge Edwin Cameron had to have financial help to afford the antiretrovirals that have now kept him alive for so many years. Effectively, antiretroviral therapy (ART) was seen as something for the wealthy elite - and, so the argument went, even if it were affordable, then poor and unsophisticated people were unlikely to be able to take it properly.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a country in possession of economic growth will find the health of its citizens improving. But almost uniquely, South Africa's growing financial strength has been accompanied by a fall in key indicators of health. The tie between health and wealth has held true for most of the world, and for as long as there appear to have been economists to notice it. Wealthier countries tend to be healthier at least until they start to encounter the diseases of affluence such as obesity. In South Africa, and some other surrounding countries, this link has broken. South Africa's Gross Domestic Product per capita has increased by an average of 3% per year for the last decade. Yet the most obvious indicators of health are falling. The easiest way to get snapshot of a nation's health is to look at key indicators: life expectancy at birth, maternal mortality and infant mortality. These are such fundamental markers that they were written into the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which South Africa signed in 2000.
Rarely in South Africa can a minister have come to power carrying such a weight of expectation as Barbara Hogan. Her first major public speech at the Aids Vaccine Conference in Cape Town in October was greeted with enthusiasm, and even international delegates speculated about the bright future that seems to lie ahead at last for South African healthcare. Her speech was reminiscent of one of those games where one has to bash crocodiles on the head as they pop up apparently randomly through holes in the floor. Politely, and without naming names, Hogan took a baseball bat and bashed all the major crocodiles on the head: Matthias Rath and his vitamins, for instance. Most of all she asserted the fact that HIV causes Aids.
The Chronic Medication Distribution Project, which was launched to reduce long queues at clinics and improve maternal and child health, are amongst the achievements the Gauteng Provincial Government can boast about. This is according to MEC for Health Brian Hlongwa, who on Tuesday reflected on the departments achievements over the past six months.
No blood transfusions have been linked to HIV infections since more sophisticated testing started more than two years ago, says the South African National Blood Service.
Health authorities in KwaZulu-Natal have put in place precautionary measures after a suspected cholera outbreak on the south coast.
OPINION: The writing is on the wall for UNAIDS. The exclusive focus on HIV promoted by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) is damaging health systems and distorting health financing, and UNAIDS should be closed down immediately, writes an expert in this weeks BMJ. We are spending far too much on HIV relative to other health needs, writes Roger England, Chairman of the Health Systems Network. Some of the money would be better spent on strengthening general health services and funding more effective interventions in other diseases such as pneumonia and diabetes that kill more people, he adds.
Crime-hit hospitals in Gauteng should have security as soon as March, provincial health minister Brian Hlongwa announced on Wednesday. We have completed an audit aimed at identifying risks at health facilities, he said during a Gauteng legislature social-cluster briefing outlining priorities in the coming year.
Five babies have died in an outbreak of klebsiella in a Durban hospital, a senior health official confirmed on Tuesday.