Anso Thom

Anso Thom

    About 1.4-million South Africans with HIV/Aids are receiving ARVs -- a figure closer to the target set by the present national strategic plan.

    The idea behind a national health insurance is that those who can afford private healthcare would subsidise state healthcare.

    HIV is the driving force behind South Africa's high child death rates. Unless there is a concerted effort to put child survival strategies in place, the country faces an "unstoppable wave of child mortality", paediatricians have warned. The knock-on effects for the future of South Africa's youth, and therefore the economy, could be dire.

    A narrow security gate and a sign proclaiming rules for visitors are the only indication that the steel gate is the entrance to Valkenberg Hospital’s infamous ward 20. While hospital staff and provincial government officials are at pains to point out that it is a hospital, it resembles a prison, with its bleak buildings, visitor body searches, the sounds of clanging steel gates and burly security guards.

    The young man briefly opened his bloodshot eyes and scanned the bleak, chaotic surroundings. His muscular body shivered uncontrollably beneath the white, government-monogrammed sheet as the paramedics lifted him on to another trolley. He tried to raise his arms; his hands and forearms, thighs, chest, back and feet were wrapped in thick, white bandages.

    Almost 10 years ago, Eben Donges Hospital in Worcester acknowledged a looming nursing crisis and established a groundbreaking learnership programme that has uplifted the community and averted massive nursing vacancies. "We realised that our staff must be our most important asset and that we would need to invest in their training and development if we wanted to retain our current staff and attract new members," said former nurse Liesl Strauss.

    Two districts in the Western Cape, Khayelitsha and Gugulethu/Nyanga, have HIV rates touching 30%. This translates into at least one in four people being HIV-positive. A disrict survey done at 374 facilities, involving the testing of 5 964 people, revealed that Gugulethu/Nyanga had a prevalence rate of 28,1%, Khayelitsha 27,2%, Helderberg 19,1%, Oostenberg 16,1%, Knysna/Plettenberg Bay 15,6% and Caledon/Hermanus 14,2%.

    A group of youngsters brought a hush to Parliament chamber this week when they spoke about their lives of poverty and hardship and how they think the Children's Bill could create a happier future for them. They call themselves Dikwankwetla, meaning heroes, and this is how they see themselves in the face of the Aids epidemic.