Creating a caring province

KwaZulu-Natal is known for its many pleasant characteristics.  From a scenic perspective, there’s the Drakensberg Mountains, the Valley of  A Thousand Hills, the Midlands Meander, and, of course, the beaches. It’s arguably the province with the best climate; and culture-wise it’s something of a melting pot. Here bunny chows, Zulu dancers and rickshaws converge to make for an interesting tourist experience. 

But nobody’s perfect. And KwaZulu-Natal has her fair share of challenges. 

According to the South African National Burden of Disease Study (2000) the average life expectancy in KwaZulu-Natal is estimated at 52 years. The main causes of mortality associated with poverty and under-development are HIV, tuberculosis (TB), parasitic diseases, perinatal and maternal conditions and malnutrition.

The 2008 HSRC South African National HIV Prevalence, Incidence, Behaviour and Communication Survey results also put KwaZulu-Natal above the other provinces with a 15.8% HIV prevalence rate. After HIV, TB is the second leading cause of mortality in the province.

Poverty is also rife in the province, with more than three million people living below the poverty line and KZN being home to six out of 10 of the country’s poverty-stricken districts.

Not that KwaZulu-Natal has taken any of this lying down. The provincial government’s plans for ending poverty and its successes in dealing with HIV have featured prominently in the media, as has its Operation Sukuma Sakhe initiative, which is based upon the premise that the province’s socioeconomic problems need to be tackled by government in partnership with the community.

The province also boasts hundreds of nongovernmental organisations, each of which strives to make a difference in its own way.  From assisting child-headed households to bursary programmes for the less privileged, respite centers for the vulnerable and providing the aged with dignity, KwaZulu-Natal is home to various organisations of differing sizes working passionately in these fields.

This publication looks at the positives amidst the negatives in KwaZulu-Natal; the caring side of the province, both from a governmental and nongovernmental perspective.  The province’s master plan for eradicating poverty as well as Operation Sukuma Sakhe are discussed, as well as the department of health’s successes and plans for the province. A few nongovernmental organisations are also profiled.

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