Great health policies, poor outcomes

Durban - South Africa has achieved much in health since the era of Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, but South Africans are still getting a raw deal, a health conference in Durban heard on Friday.

"We have poor health outcomes despite good policies," Salim Abdool-Karim, director for the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa, told an SA Medical Association conference in Durban.

"Health outcomes are disproportionately poor."

He said since Tshabalala-Msimang stepped down as health minister in 2008, the government's decision to implement the world's biggest antiretroviral programmes had a major impact on South Africa's mortality rate.

A quarter of all people in the world receiving antiretroviral treatment were in South Africa.

The rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission had fallen almost 10-fold, from 27% to 2.7% of newborn babies being infected.

There had been other improvements in health, such as a slight decline in tobacco consumption.

The country was unique in that it carried an exceptionally high health burden, he said.

Some 17% of all HIV infections globally occurred in South Africa while it had less than 1% of the world's population.

The country had 5% of the world's tuberculosis cases.

Injuries caused by violence were higher than the global average, with South Africa accounting for 1.3% of such injuries.

South Africa had 1% of the world's non-communicable diseases, such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease.

Abdool-Karim said there was a steady increase in these diseases.

South Africa was unique in that it was affected disproportionately by several health problems at the same time.

Bangladesh, which had a population of about 150 million, spent less money per person on health and yet all its health indicators, such as infant mortality, matched those of South Africa, with a population of about 53 million.

Read more on: durban health
David Jones 2014/08/30 06:51:01 AM
Minister of Health good work and drama-free job always flying under radar. A very strong candidate for presidency when our JZ finishes his term. Cyril stealing the limelight with his boardroom charm!
Utopian Indigent 2014/08/30 06:57:44 AM
In all Departments billions are wasted/stolen despite good policies. Something must urgently be done, maybe the EFF are right.
Erna Westdyk 2014/08/30 07:26:14 AM
And the last paragraph should read - "This is because the people deployed by the ANC are not qualified, don't know what they're doing and are corrupt."
Dirk Jacobs 2014/08/30 07:29:19 AM
17% of global hiv infections and 1% of the global population...hence health education is extremely poor
Stephan Theunissen 2014/08/30 07:38:34 AM
I wonder how many people realise that many of the positives are as a result of what certain NGOs are doing in the various rural settlements. MSF, WHO, CHAI to name a few, but they will let government take the credit as only their doners will know through reports, that they are succeeding or not.
Rere Noko 2014/08/30 07:52:58 AM
The problem is our governvment is buzy recruting tired,lazy retired gogos as re-engeneering nurses while leaving the qualified young, fresh blood nurses wondering the streets without jobs.I beleieve they should give our deserving sisters and brothers chance to take on the the communities out there.
Rob Pienaar 2014/08/30 08:08:09 AM
Yep. It's called contraceptive management - lot of talk and activity, but no results.
Scotty English 2014/08/30 08:54:28 AM
They have not achieved anything. I was waiting for a permanent contraception drug that would be distributed to the baby making machines.