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Kerry Cullinan

Sex workers abandoned as Covid-19 crackdowns undo Africa’s HIV efforts

Controlling Covid-19 may worsen Africa’s HIV epidemic by stopping state and civil society health services built up over 35 years

Patients before process, say doctors

The KwaZulu-Natal health department has identified a quiet rural doctor as a troublemaker, charging him with misconduct for "wilfully and unlawfully without prior permission of [his] superiors rolling out prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission dual therapy to pregnant mothers and newborns".

‘Poor simply fall out of the healthcare system’

As the Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) began three days of public hearings on health services, based on a nine-province review, one of its most shocking findings is that poor patients are effectively being excluded from healthcare if they can't afford to pay for transport.

Going solo

The transformation of Africa’s biggest hospital is being closely watched by trade unions and the Gauteng departments of health and public service and administration to see whether it could be a model for change countrywide. Empowering hospital CEO Arthur Manning and clinicians to take control of the operation of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital is at the heart of the project

Hip to the odds

It is 9.15am and Wilson Mhlongo is being prepared for an operation to replace the ball and joint of his right hip, which are eroded by arthritis. He winces, his eyes screwed up in pain, as Dr Kobus Viljoen tries to find a space between his vertebrae to insert the huge needle of the spinal anaesthetic injection. Dr Victor Fredlund, assisted by Viljoen, will perform the two-hour operation. As the hospital has no anaesthetist, Mhlongo will be awake throughout the procedure.

Mental health care in need of a boost

Psychiatric patients have long been neglected by the health system and hidden from the public eye. Recently, a commission of enquiry heard evidence of gross abuse -- including sexual and physical -- of psychiatric patients by staff at Townhill Hospital in Pieter­maritzburg. The government has made significant efforts to improve the psychiatric wards over the past decade, but the main refrain remains acute staff shortages.

Fort Napier Mental Hospital

Despite a desperate need for facilities for psychiatric patients, Fort Napier Hospital in Pietermaritzburg is operating way below capacity because it simply lacks the staff to admit more patients. Although the facility has 370 beds, serious staff shortages have forced management to reduce patient numbers to about 280, says the superintendent, Dr Sharma Jogessar.

West End Psychiatric and TB Hospital

Jeannette, a slender young woman with a squint, tries to shuffle out through the security gate behind us, but is roughly restrained by a stocky woman who puts a heavy forearm around Jeannette’s neck and pulls her back. When I remark that the security guard seems unnecessarily zealous, I am told that the stocky woman is an auxiliary nurse.

A study in neglect

Kimberley has one of the best doctor-patient ratios in the country but, a few kilometres away, Warrenton Hospital battles to attract a single doctor. To listen to Sister Gail Davids is to understand why so many of our nurses hotfoot it out of the public health system. At Warrenton, a normal weekend sounds as if it were a television script.

SA wants more say on Aids spending

The South African government on Monday demanded a greater say over the way millions in United States HIV/Aids funding is spent in the country, arguing that giving the money directly to local programmes created a coordination problem. The Bush administration has pledged -billion to combat HIV/Aids over five years in 15 of the world's worst-hit countries.

Scandal dogs council for alternative health

Two homeopaths holding top positions in the organisation that regulates the conduct of all South African homeopaths are being investigated for apparent fraudulent qualifications. This is the latest scandal to hit the Allied Health Professionals Council of South Africa, a government-established statutory body.

Researchers note sharp drop in Zim HIV prevalence

Changes in sexual behaviour seem to be behind the dramatic drop in HIV prevalence in Zimbabwe, according to researchers. There has been an almost 50% decline in HIV prevalence in some groups in Zimbabwe as people delay when they first have sex and cut down on casual partners, according to their research.

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