In President Jacob Zuma’s 2009 State of The Nation’s Address, he admitted
that the state of South African health care was in a crisis.
- “We are seriously concerned about the deterioration of the quality of
health care, aggravated by the steady increase in the burden of disease in
the past decade and a half”.
Recognizing that the quality of health care was decreasing – Zuma made many
- “We must work together… to reduce “rate of new HIV infections by 50%
by the year 2011″.
The rate of new infections is the best measure for how the government is
performing in reducing AIDS as the number of people living with HIV is
expected to stabilise or get larger as more people access treatment.
According to StatisticsSouth Africa,
In 2009 413000 adults contracted HIV.
In 2010 410 000 adults contracted HIV.
In 2011 316900 adults contracted HIV
New HIV Infections did decrease between 2010 and 2011 but the rate of decrease was nowhere near Zuma’s aim of 50%. And projections from the Actuarial Society of South Africa show the number of people living with HIV will rise from five-and a-half million in 2011 to almost 6 million people in 2015.
- Zuma promised an increased roll out of Anti-Retrovirals: “We want to reach 80% of those in need of ARV treatment by 2011.”
The number of patients on ARV treatment did increase from 609 762 in 2008 to more than a million in 2010, thanks to government. But the huge roll out of ARVs is not translating into less deaths from Aids. Deaths caused by AIDS related diseases only dropped slightly from 46% of all deaths in 2009 to 43% of all South African deaths in 2011. This also shows that government is not succeeding in treating Tuberculosis as many Aids related deaths are caused by TB
- Zuma has mentioned National Health Insurance in his State of the Nation addresses since 2009. “We will introduce a National Health Insurance scheme in a phased and incremental manner. In order to initiate the NHI, the urgent rehabilitation of public hospitals will be undertaken through Public-Private Partnerships.”
The government released the draft NHI green paper last year and also presented a paper on how to deal with Human Resource Shortages. Despite this plans for the NHI will also be hampered by a severe shortage of doctors. MD of Econex Dr Nicola Theron says “the government is well aware of the shortage of doctors and nurses”. She said that “NHI is focusing on primary health care and trying to get patients treated by a team of professionals at clinic level before they are referred to a doctor to mitigate the severe shortages of GPs and specialists”.
According to figures from Econex there are severe shortages of doctors with just under 18 000 General Practitioners and just under 10 000 specialists in the country of 50 million people. More than half of all specialists work in private practice that serves less than 20 % of the population.
Theron says there are also shortages of nurses.
The President and the Health minister have promised the opening of nursing colleges and a seventh Medical training hospital in Limpopo. But Department of Health Spokesperson Fidel Hadebe refused to comment on when the Limpopo Training Institution would open or if the reopening of nursing colleges had taken place, saying he would not preempt the President’s 2012 State of the Nation address.
In 2010 Zuma promised that the government would work with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) to upgrade hospitals.
- “We have partnered with the Development Bank ofSouthern Africato improve
the functionality of public hospitals and their district offices.”
- “Intensive work is underway to ensure that this work is on schedule.
We will also continue preparations for the establishment of a National Health Insurance system.”
Gauteng Democratic Spokesperson Jack Bloom Bloom says renovations to upgrade Baragwanath Hospitali n conjunction with the DBSA have not started, even two years after the promise. The DBSA were unavailable to comment.
Bloom says capital in R700 million in initially budgeted for upgrading of Gautneg hospitals was redirected to paying suppliers.
Despite the diversion of funds to suppliers, many suppliers remain unpaid meaning Gauteng Hospitals face a constant shortage of linen, theatre clothes, machinery, medicines, chemicals for cat scans and X-rays, bandages and even basic painkillers like Panados.
- Zuma has also commented in 2010 about lowering South Africa’s mortality rate and although infant mortality figures remain shockingly high they are decreasing:
In 2009 45.7 of 1000 babies died before they turned one
In 2010 46. 9 babies died before the age of one.
In 2011 37.9 per 1000 babies died before turning one.
Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world that has not managed to reduce the mortality rate of children under five in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals that aim to reduce poverty.