'No evidence' grants are interfering with treatment

Kerry Cullinan, Health-e

There are widespread claims that people with HIV stop taking their antiretroviral drugs as they fear losing their disability grants, while some blame the child support grant for encouraging teenage girls to become mothers.

However, preliminary research by the Department of Social Development into both these claims has found no evidence to support the claims.

The statistics provide little evidence of people changing their circumstances to obtain the disability grant, said the Minister of Social Development, Dr Zola Skweyiya.

Reports of such incidents are so far anecdotal and unverifiable. The increase in disability grant take-up rates often have more to do with peoples inability to enter the labour market and the scarcity of employment opportunities. The alleged behavioural changes will be further probed through a separate qualitative investigation.

However, the research did find that some cases the disability grant was being used as a poverty alleviation grant.

There are indications that even if people are unsuccessful on first application, they return with new ailments until such time as their applications are approved, said the department.

No link between teen pregnancy and child support grants was found. Only 5% of grant recipients were teenagers, which is considerably lower than the proportion of teenage mothers, said the department.

There had been a huge growth in the number of child support grants beneficiaries in recent years. However, if a comparison is made between the numbers of teenagers receiving the grant with the incidence of teenage births in the national population, the quantitative analysis suggests that the take-up rate of the grant by teenage mothers remains low, said Skweyiya.
(Source: Kerry Cullinan, Health-e - 17 January, 2007)