Five Gauteng hospitals implicated in forced sterilisation

I am horrified by the report that HIV positive women have been sterilised without their knowledge in a number of Gauteng public hospitals.

According to the Gender Equality Commission, the following five Gauteng hospitals have been implicated:

  • Edenvale Hospital
  • Tembisa Hospital
  • Leratong Hospital
  • Far East Hospital
  • Tambo Memorial Hospital

The report indicates that women who were pregnant and found to be HIV positive were coerced into being sterilised.

Some women related that they were forced to sign a consent form while in labour.

Others were told that because they were HIV positive they should not ask questions about what was done to them.

More cases may come to light and the ethical lapses could be as serious as the Life Esidemini tragedy.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to investigate this and ensure that there is accountability so that this never happens again.

Gauteng fails to distribute 75 million condoms

The Gauteng Health Department is failing dismally to distribute condoms to prevent HIV/Aids infection as only 91 million out of the target of 165 million male condoms were distributed, and only 2.7 million out of the target of 4.1 million female condoms.

This is revealed in the Department’s Third Quarterly Report which covers the period October to December 2019 and was recently released in the Gauteng Legislature.

According to the report, there were stock shortages for the male condoms, and only one supplier delivered in the first week of December 2019.

The reason given for missing the target for female condoms is that “Uptake of female condoms is still low. More work to be done to promote and market the condom.”

The upshot is that 74 million male condoms and 1.4 million female condoms that should have been distributed weren’t, which is very problematic as about 50 000 people still get HIV-infected in Gauteng every year.

The Department also missed its target for medical male circumcisions – only 5346 circumcisions were performed instead of the quarterly target of 13 664 circumcisions. A shortage of service providers for voluntary medical male circumcision is blamed.

I am disappointed that the Department gives poor excuses for the failure to distribute enough condoms which are an essential tool in the prevention of new HIV infections.

Gauteng scores lowest in providing ARVs to HIV-positive people

Gauteng is lagging all other provinces in treating people diagnosed as HIV-positive with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs).

This is according to the latest Thembisa mathematical model (version 4.2) of HIV in South Africa as analyzed by Spotlight https://www.spotlightnsp.co.za/2019/08/05/graphs-that-tell-the-story-of-hiv-in-south-africas-provinces/

According to the 90–90–90 targets for 2020 set by the United Nations Programme on AIDS and HIV, 90% of people living with HIV should know their HIV status, 90% of those who know their HIV-positive status should be on ARVs, and 90% of people on treatment should have suppressed viral loads.

In Gauteng 89% of HIV-positive people have been diagnosed, but only 61% of them are receiving ARV treatment and only 47% of HIV-positive people on ARVs have suppressed viral loads so that they can no long pass on the infection.

This compares with some other provinces as follows:

  • KwaZulu-Natal – 92% diagnosed, 72% on treatment and 61% with suppressed viral load.
  • Western Cape – 89% diagnosed, 66% on treatment and 52% with suppressed viral load.
  • Eastern Cape – 90% diagnosed, 62% on treatment and 48% with suppressed viral load.

I am also concerned that 60 000 people become HIV-infected in Gauteng each year, a decline from previous years but still too high, especially amongst young women.

The Gauteng Health Department needs to do more to treat and prevent HIV/Aids which currently affects 1 912 590 people, which is 13.5% (one in seven) of the province’s population.

MEC reveals Gauteng hospitals are unsafe

 

All Gauteng health facilities inspected by the Department of Labour for bio-hazard and other safety issues in the last three years have failed to meet the required standard.

 

This is revealed by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa in a written reply to my questions in the Gauteng Legislature.

 

According to Ramokgopa, the Department of Labour has conducted various audits, inspections and investigations covering hazardous biological agents, construction compliance, noise measurements and occupational hazards.

 

She says: “All the audited facilities received either a non-compliance finding, such as a contravention and/or improvement compliance notice”.

 

The following health facilities were inspected and found to be non-compliant on various measures:

 

Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital
Helen Joseph Hospital
George Mukhari Hospital
Pretoria West Hospital
Sebokeng Hospital
Hillbrow Community Health Centre
Odi, Temba and Cullinan Emergency Management Services (EMS)

 

Ramokgopa attributes the failures to “old poor buildings, infrastructure and equipment” and also “ever-increasing patients load, re-emerging of infectious diseases, burden of HIV and TB and general overload in our facilities.”

 

I am appalled that not a single hospital in Gauteng was compliant in the critical area of worker and patient safety.
The hospitals that have not been inspected are also probably non-compliant in large measure.

 

It is very worrying because hazardous biological agents are infectious and toxic. They cause allergic reactions such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis‚ allergic rhinitis‚ some types of asthma and organic dust toxic syndrome.

 

Non-compliance with safety standards increases the risk of health workers and patients becoming infected.

 

The huge maintenance backlog leads to contraventions of the Occupational Health and Safety Act that increases risks such as the recent roof collapse at the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital.

 

I hope that the inspections are a wake-up call to the department to drastically improve safety conditions in our hospitals and clinics.

 

The goal must be strict compliance with all safety standards.

Media Enquiries

Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC
082 333 4222

 

[Image Source: http://bit.ly/2o8K7MN]

DA Debates Motion On World AIDS Day

Speech by: Paul Willemburg MPL

“The stigma of HIV/AIDS unfortunately lives on”

  • Stigma is still rife and continues to drive the disease underground, hampering our efforts. Our health institutions need to stop isolating AIDS patients and putting them in separate queues when collecting their medication.
  • We need new innovative stigma-reduction programmes that have measurable outcomes.
  • To further reduce stigma, we need to start treating HIV/AIDS just like any other chronic disease.
  • “Test and Treat” is a great new initiative preventing those on treatment from infecting their sexual partners.
  • We need to start providing those from vulnerable groups such as Sex Workers and MSM, access to PrEP (Pre Exposure Prophylactics) – one Truvada tablet a day to prevent infection.

The full speech can be obtained here.

 

Speech by: Lebo More MPL

“Prevention is better than cure, let’s move for zero infections in the new year”

  • If government fails to ensure a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education at schools then all other purported efforts to reduce infection rates in young people will be fruitless.
  • Let’s join efforts in fighting HIV/AIDS and build a conscious society.
  • Government needs to plan, budget and implement programmes in a quest to make a difference in this battle against HIV/AIDS.
  • Abstinence where possible, being honest with your partners a must and condomising a necessity.

The full speech can be obtained here

 

 

Media enquiries:

Paul Willemburg MPL

DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Sport, Recreation, Arts, Culture and Heritage

082 450 0815

 

Lebo More MPL

DA Spokesperson on Petitions

072 273 4487

[Image source]

70% Of Johannesburg Prostitutes Are HIV Positive

The finding that 70% of Johannesburg sex workers are HIV positive is immensely disturbing.

Johannesburg sex workers have a higher infection rate than Durban’s 53% and Cape Town’s almost 40%.

This is according to a study by the US Centres for Disease Control in partnership with University of California, the Anova Health Institute and the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute.

While we are having good success in treatment for HIV/AIDS, we are failing dismally with prevention.

Part of the reason is because high risk groups such as sex workers are not taking sufficient preventative measures.

The Gauteng Health Department should urgently look into providing the HIV prevention drug, Truvada, to sex workers and other high risk groups.

More education is also needed on consistent use of condoms by both males and females.

Media enquiries:
Jack Bloom MPL
DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Health
082 333 4222

[Image source]

SPEECH BY MR LEBO MORE, MPL ON COMMUNITY HEALTHCARE WORKERS SERVING COMMUNITIES BETTER UNDER NGO’S, DELIVERED IN THE GAUTENG PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE ON TUESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2015

The Democratic Alliance is not opposed to the view of decent work to South Africans. It is not opposed to a decent living wage to hard working individuals in the province and it is very important that it be noted that the DA believes in a prospering South Africa full of endless opportunities.  However, a clear perspective on what Community Health Care Workers are, the work they do and how they relate to both the community and government should be looked at.

Community Health Care Workers know very clearly communities they serve. They know in detail health care challenges in their neighbourhoods and all processes needed to be followed when assisting members of the community. These are trusted men and women in all are communities playing very important roles. It is on this basis that there is a need of consistent relationship between communities and government on health services rendered, therefore, Non-Government Organisations or NPOs are better placed to render these services and Community Health Care Workers would be better placed in NGOs than them being placed as another extension of a government wage bill. This of course will also mean that government should have a serious role to play in supporting the roles played by NGO’s who render community health care service.

It shouldn’t be the case that government fails to support NGOs and NPOs that are meant to promote health and wellness in communities because this will definitely reduce current existing pressures in all Gauteng Primary Health Care Centres. Our primary health care centres in Gauteng are pressured with high volume of patients of whom many could have been assisted by well-co-ordinated NGOs which would be offering a focused intervention programme on health education, wellness and disease prevention in homes, thus reducing number of people coming to primary health care centres.  Now, this Honourable speaker clearly shows the importance of Community Health Care Workers.

These NGOs and NPOs would further be able to access additional international funding based on the community work they do as they would also be responding to the millennium development goal that’s speaks of combating HIV, Malaria and other diseases. International funding and government support would enhance their programmes and I truly believe that they would be remunerated fairly and accordingly looking at the value they would be contributing towards the successes of their NGOs.

Honourable Speaker, the DA proposes this as a way forward in sincerely supporting community health work as performed by this dedicated men and women. Where we govern we excellently implement this strategy and it works. We urge on the Gauteng provincial government to seriously look at this progressive way forward.

SPEECH BY DR NEIL CAMPBELL, MPL ON COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS PLAYING A CRITICAL HEALTHCARE ROLE, DELIVERED IN THE GAUTENG PROVINCIAL LEGISLATURE ON TUESDAY, 10 NOVEMBER 2015

Community Healthcare Workers are used to strengthen the Primary Healthcare system through illness prevention, the monitoring of postpartum mothers and babies, the supervising of recovery after illnesses, while also ensuring treatment adherence especially in TB and HIV cases and in providing end-of-life care.

Generally these workers provide a vital link between the community and the provincial healthcare structures and, crucially, the home based care services they provide encourage communities to take ownership of their health needs. They also provide education and awareness programs and identify numerous community health problems including environmental health issues.

In South Africa small scale projects have yielded better results than national initiatives because of a lack of national policy and funding from the ministry.

Community Healthcare Workers are often erroneously seen by both the public and provincial departments of health as a cheap and inferior type of healthcare worker, which couldn’t be further from the truth and much needs to be done to correct this misconception.

In Gauteng, Community Health Workers were initially employed by NGO’s and NPOs. Some Community Healthcare Workers complained that a few NGO’s were illegally withholding payment  or decreasing the quantum of meager stipends and this led to the then MEC for Health, Hope Papa, undertaking to remunerate Community Healthcare Workers directly from the Gauteng Department of Health although they have never been fully integrated into the Department and lack GDHS Persal numbers.

Following the GDH’s assumption of this payment responsibility to Community Healthcare Workers, there have been ongoing disputes regarding late or non-payment of stipends which leaves the workers no better off than when NGOs paid them. Payment by provincial departments of health is not universally the way these workers are remunerated with many still being successfully remunerated through NGOs in other provinces.

Community Healthcare Workers need to be responsive to community needs and to do this they require back-up from state healthcare structures which is often not forthcoming. In fact these workers are often denied the basic barriers to cross infection such as masks, gloves and hand swabs. This is not conducive to good healthcare and must be remedied immediately. Additionally they must walk long distances in carrying out their duties though scorching summers and freezing winters.

Similarly, Community Healthcare Workers have no real career pathway and seem doomed to be entry level workers indefinitely, despite many years of loyal and productive service. Advanced training is also lacking and these deficiencies must be rectified too.

In other countries Community Healthcare Workers have been of inestimable assistance in providing effective healthcare interventions and they are rewarded accordingly. In this country Community Healthcare Workers also provide positive health outcomes but remain out on a limb with no proper recognition for their services.

If we want to increase the footprint of Community Healthcare Workers in our communities, we must prioritize their skills development and their career paths and ensure that their services are decently and consistently rewarded with regular guaranteed pay packages. We must provide them with the tools they need to carry out their work including infection control measures. National government has shown little leadership regarding Community Healthcare Workers and it is necessary to develop nation-wide norms for the treatment of these much needed workers.

We believe that rather than dictating the path that the Department must take as detailed in this motion, it would better address the many problems of these workers if a national imbizo was held to clarify the many contentious issues raised and to prevent the exploitation of Community Healthcare Workers.

Through such an inclusive strategy, solving problems together we can improve the quality of Primary Healthcare and bring it closer to the communities we serve throughout the country.

I thank you Madam Speaker