Lancet: Leadership needed to fight SA violence

South Africa’s government must provide better leadership to ease high rates of violence and improve the healthcare system to fight HIV/Aids and other diseases, a report released on Tuesday said.

Widespread poverty, unemployment, income inequality, alcohol abuse, access to weapons and poor law enforcement are fuelling violence in Africa’s biggest economy, according to a study by the Lancet Series on Health in South Africa.

”The overall injury death rate of 157,8 per 100 000 population is nearly twice the global average and the rate of homicide of women by intimate partners is six times the global average,” the report said.

South Africa has one of the most violent rates of violent crime in the world. Murders, rapes and car hijackings are common.

The study found young men aged between 15 to 29 are disproportionately engaged in violence, both as victims and perpetrators.

”Half of the female victims of homicide are killed by their intimate male partners and the country has an exceptionally high rate of rape of women and girls,” the report said.

While non-governmental organisations have made advances in providing services for victims of crime, authors of the study say ”there has been a conspicious absence of government stewardship and leadership”.

President Jacob Zuma has promised to fight poverty, crime and unemployment. His government is also under pressure to provide adequate medical care, education and housing after violent protests in townships.

But Zuma is constrained by the economic recession.

South Africa, with about 5,7-million people infected with HIV, represents the world’s largest Aids epidemic. An estimated 500 000 people are infected each year and about 1 000 die every day from HIV/Aids-related illnesses.

”Decisive action is needed to implement evidence-based priorities for the control of the HIV and tuberculosis epidemics,” the study said.

”Until recently the South African government’s response to these diseases have been marked by denial, lack of political will, and poor implementation of policies and programmes.” – Reuters

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