Press Release: After the public sector workers’ strike

TAC and SECTION27 call on government and unions to find an urgent solution to the human resource crisis in the health system.

On 6th September 2010 the public sector strike was suspended to allow trade unions to consult their members on whether to accept the government’s revised offer on pay and other conditions. We urge the union members to seriously consider this offer as the public health system cannot afford a return to the strike. We are aware that many workers will regard acceptance of the offer as a compromise and that it may not satisfy public sector workers’ demands for a reasonable standard of living or a salary commensurate with the contribution they make to our society. Nonetheless we believe that it should be accepted.

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IST reports on the state of the health system and the public’s right to know

More than a year after their finalisation and after many frustrated attempts by civil society organisations and the media to access them – including through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, 2000 – SECTION27 and the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP) have finally been leaked copies of all the provincial reports compiled by the Integrated Support Teams (ISTs). Up to this point, the only report we have received officially is a consolidated report available here. This report is important, but lacks the necessary detail to allow civil society to engage with different challenges in different provinces.

The IST reports on each province were commissioned by the former Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan, in response to the massive budgetary shortfalls that over-whelmed provincial departments of health (PDoHs) in the 2008/2009 financial year, which reached crisis levels when the Free State Department of Health issued a moratorium on the initiation of new patients onto antiretroviral treatment in November 2008. After civil society pressure, that moratorium was finally lifted in February 2009.

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Reports of the Integrated Support Teams

The reports on this page are those of the Integrated Support Teams (ISTs) which have been provided to SECTION27 and the Rural Health Advocacy Project (RHAP). The IST reports were commissioned by the former Minister of Health, Barbara Hogan, in response to the massive budgetary shortfalls that over-whelmed provincial departments of health (PDoHs) in the 2008/2009 financial year, which reached crisis levels when the Free State Department of Health issued a moratorium on the initiation of new patients onto antiretroviral treatment from November 2008 to February 2009.

10 reports were commissioned in total, one for each provincial department of health and one for the National Department of Health – which we have not been able to access as of yet. In addition, a Consolidated Report was produced that pulled together findings from the individual department reports. These reports contain an honest, sobering assessment of the inadequate financial capacity of provincial departments of health that have led to the development of over R7.5 billion in provincial debt as of April 2009. The findings in these reports reveal fundamental failures in political and bureaucratic leadership, inappropriate financial management systems, inadequate monitoring and evaluation systems, and a failure to plan appropriately for human resources, amongst others.

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A Week into the Public Sector Strike

A week into the public sector strike the Treatment Action Campaign and SECTION27 regret that no agreement has been reached between striking public service workers and the government. We support the demands of workers and their right to strike. But we regret the growing polarisation, pain and loss of life. This is now a political crisis that requires political leadership and a solution.

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Neo-natal circumcision not in conflict with Children’s Act of 2005

Much confusion has been generated recently regarding the legality of performing medical male circumcision on boys below the age of 16 in South Africa. This confusion seems to be based on a poor reading of the Children’s Act 38 of 2005. This confusion has caused some providers to be hesitant to perform circumcisions on infant boys, even where the parents have provided consent and slowed down the implementation of programmes ultimately aimed at preventing new HIV infections in the future.

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The South African Child Gauge

The South African Child Gauge is the only publication in the country that provides an annual snap-shot of the status of South Africa’s children.
It is published by the Children’s Institute, University of Cape Town, to track South Africa’s progress towards realising children’s rights.
The latest issue focuses on the theme ‘Healthy children: From survival to optimal development‘.

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Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision is Safe and Effective: But beware of unsafe devices

The Southern African HIV Clinicians Society and the Treatment Action Campaign support the implementation of a country-wide voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) programme. Male medical circumcision reduces the risk of heterosexual men contracting HIV and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). Despite the effectiveness of VMMC, it is essential that circumcised men are encouraged to continue using condoms during sexual intercourse.

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HIV incidence in South Africa: what is really happening?

Measuring changes in HIV incidence is key to evaluating the effectiveness of prevention interventions – including the provision of antiretroviral treatment (ART), which has been shown to reduce transmission – as well as for quantifying the need for future services, which is important for planning and budgeting.

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Health Department allows patients to get three months of antiretroviral treatment

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.”

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Current OSD offer still disadvantages rural communities

Current OSD offer still disadvantages rural communities

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.

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