SECTION27 is a public interest law centre that seeks to influence, develop and use the law to protect, promote and advance human rights. Our name is drawn from the section in the South African Constitution which enshrines everyone's right to health care, food, water and social security.
The Department of Health has given the go-ahead for patients on antiretroviral treatment (ART) to be given three months supply of medicines instead of one month. The TAC and SECTION27 welcome this decision. It will be more convenient for patients because they will have to make fewer trips to their health facility. It will also reduce patient-load on the health system, particularly on health facility pharmacies given the shortage of pharmacists in the public health system. In a memorandum dated 2 July 2010, the Department of Health states, “There is no indication of any legislation prohibiting the supply of medicines for three months to any one patient. This practice should only be implemented once the patient has proved stable on the regimen.”
On 17 June 2010, about 2,000 people representing 16 organisations marched to the United States (US) consulate in Sandton, Johannesburg, to demand that the US leads the way in funding universal access to antiretroviral treatment.
The Rural Health Advocacy Project, Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa, SECTION27 and Wits Centre for Rural Health support SAMA’s rejection of the final OSD offer to public sector doctors. By accepting the Government’s OSD offer, collective labour in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council will be contributing to a major setback in Government’s strides to achieve health for all. By offering only marginal increases to medical officers in particular, rural communities are likely to see a further exodus of rural doctors to urban areas, the private sector, and overseas.
Rural patients are disadvantaged in many ways: poverty levels are higher, access to basic services and education is poor, travel to health facilities is costly, facilities are understaffed and waiting times are out of control; now they can expect even fewer doctors to attend to their needs.
On Monday 31 May Business Day reported that because of the deepening financial crisis facing health services in the provinces the Minister of Health is discussing a “bail-out” of provincial departments of health by the Treasury. Treasury intervention is now vital to prevent the collapse of health services. But equally important is the resolution of the crisis facing financial management systems that led to the massive debt in the first place.