22 October 2008
South Africa’s public health sector is to be given additional resources to boost HIV/Aids treatment and prevention, reduce the country’s TB treatment defaulter rate, introduce new vaccines to combat child mortality, and increase the salaries of health professionals.
Delivering his medium term budget policy statement in Parliament on Tuesday, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said the government has allocated additional resources to provide for three new vaccines to reduce the number of children dying from pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Other allocations included new proposed salary scales for doctors, dentists, pharmacists and related health professionals.
Manuel also allocated funds to increase the take-up of antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programmes in the country.
According to the most recent survey of HIV prevalence among pregnant women attending public antenatal clinics, South Africa’s overall HIV prevalence decreased from an estimated 29.2% in 2006 to 28% in 2007.
The 2008 Report on the Global Aids Epidemic, released by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/Aids (UNAids) in July, confirmed that the prevalence of HIV/Aids in South Africa had stabilised and was beginning to decrease.
In the same month, the Department of Health reported thatm, by end of April 2008, more than 478 000 South Africans were on ARV treatment programmes.
Also included in Manuel’s medium term budget policy statement is funding for expanded tuberculosis (TB) track and trace teams in the country.
In a bid to reduce South Africa’s TB treatment defaulter rate from 10% to 7%, 20% of health facilities in the country now have TB tracing teams. The teams go out into communities to encourage TB patients to complete their course of treatment, thus reducing the risk of patients developing a resistance to TB drugs.