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2020/09/182020/09/22 08:05 AM

As of 9 September, 180 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are being tested around the world, according to the World Health Organisation — but only 35 of those have managed to make it out of the lab into human trials. And of the candidates being tested on people, only about a quarter — 9 — have made it to phase three trials, which is the stage during which the vaccine is being tested on a large number of people for efficacy and safety.

Trials traditionally go through several stages, beginning with laboratory tests and animal studies, to ensure that they are safe and demonstrate some benefit. If positive results are obtained during this stage, by means of an immune response against the virus, the research can then progress to human trials, which occur in three phases. Each stage gets progressively bigger in size and fine-tunes details such as the correct dosage required, with phase three being the final stage before seeking regulatory approval if the vaccine turns out to be effective.
2020/09/182020/09/22 08:17 AM

Low-cost health insurance plans that give you access to private doctors for out-of-hospital care will be able to continue for another 18 months as insurance policies.

Beyond March 2020, it is likely that low-cost health insurance plans will have to convert to a low-cost medical scheme option with benefits determined by the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS).
2020/09/172020/09/22 08:07 AM

Covid-19 brought public and private health sectors together but what does the future hold?

The recent Gordon Institute of Business Science healthcare industry conference, held online for the first time, highlighted the successes of South Africa’s healthcare providers in collaborating through the Covid-19 pandemic.

A strong takeaway from the conference was the need to ensure the availability of quality personal protective equipment (PPE) in future. This opened up discussions around potentially creating a central delivery system for PPE as well as the need to ramp up local manufacture.
2020/09/172020/09/22 08:11 AM

Discovery’s ownership of a life insurance business, a medical aid scheme and a bank at the same time could have had disastrous outcomes in the company’s financial year ended on 30 June had death claims, lapses and hospital admissions spiked.

If the company’s relatively new banking operations had an aggressive lending book, or if tis customers were not consciously trying stay with good credit score, credit impairments would added more woes.
2020/09/172020/09/22 08:16 AM

Medical schemes are expected to announce their fee hikes for 2021 in the next few weeks, with the Council for Medical Schemes (CMS) urging them to freeze prices for next year – or at least to limit hikes to 3.9%, around the current inflation rate.

Last year, SA's biggest medical scheme Discovery hiked its contributions by an average of 9.5%, while Bonitas increased its prices by 9.9%. Momentum's price hike was around 8.2%.
2020/09/162020/09/22 07:51 AM

Researchers have no easy answer for why the country was spared from hospitals being overwhelmed as in Italy and US.

To everyone’s relief, SA’s health system has largely coped with the coronavirus pandemic, sparing the nation the harrowing spectacle of overwhelmed hospitals and mortuaries as seen in northern Italy and New York.

2020/09/162020/09/22 08:02 AM

Almost twice as many people will die from Covid-19 if rich countries buy up the first 2-billion doses of vaccine instead of ensuring the shots are fairly distributed, Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned.

A safe and effective vaccine is critical to ending the coronavirus pandemic. More than 29-million cases and 924,000 deaths have been recorded so far, and many countries that initially appeared to have brought their epidemics under control are grappling with a resurgence of the disease.
2020/09/162020/09/22 08:03 AM

The 2020 Goalkeepers Report shows wholesale derailment of development goals due to Covid-19. And with nations scrambling for control of a vaccine, the worst may still be to come.

Smarter collaboration, commitment and confronting society’s inequalities is what it’s going to take for a world emerging from Covid-19 to get back on track to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.
2020/09/162020/09/22 08:13 AM

Some politicians are spinning the yarn that Covid-19 shows SA can manage immense healthcare projects — where were they when all the looting was taking place?

What planet, you wonder, do our politicians live on?

This weekend, City Press quoted an unnamed official as saying the success of SA’s Covid-19 response shows just how well National Health Insurance (NHI) would work.
2020/09/162020/09/22 08:15 AM

Medical aid consumers can expect an average scheme rate of around 5 to 6% next year. This is according to the Council for Medical Aid Schemes and is despite the body's recent recommendation to freeze or limit member contribution to 3.9% for 2021, which would have brought much relief to already indebted consumers.

Phoenix Financial Services Group CEO, Clayton Samsodien, said any reduction in expenses for consumers would be welcomed especially given the current economic climate.
2020/09/152020/09/22 07:55 AM

Prof Salim Abdool Karim says SA is now in a “post-Covid new normal” but worries that “super-spreader” events could spark a second resurgence in cases.

The chairperson of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee told 702 on Monday that certain events, including large gatherings, should still be treated with extreme caution when the country moves to lockdown level 1.
2020/09/152020/09/22 07:57 AM

The COVID-19 pandemic put huge strain on South Africa’s hospitals, and public hospitals are now finally enjoying a moment of respite as the peak of the virus seems to have passed.

Hospitals in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng were hit the hardest during the pandemic. Now, six months after South Africa’s initial outbreak, the country has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world and a recovery rate of almost 90%.
2020/09/152020/09/22 08:01 AM

On 9 September, South Africa recorded 1,990 new cases of the pandemic in 24 hours. The country has now slipped to the eighth worst affected nation in the world in terms of the number of Covid-19 infections. In spite of this, elective surgery has been given the green light and it's back to business - albeit with strict protocols in place to safeguard staff as well as patients.

Almost five months ago elective surgeries came to a standstill. This was reflected in claiming patterns in the private healthcare sector during lockdown – a disruption of the norm globally. In South Africa, elective surgery in both the private and public healthcare space and specialists’ visits are just two of the areas which have been affected by Covid-19. The link between the two is clear: Fewer specialists’ visits mean fewer referrals for surgery.
2020/09/152020/09/22 08:14 AM

Public comment on three bills to tighten provisions against gender-based violence ends on 9 October, a few days after Parliament returns from recess. Dubbed the GBV Bills, they’re part of key draft laws requiring attention, including the NHI Bill and the constitutional amendment for expropriation without compensation.

In the final eight weeks or so of this year’s parliamentary calendar, at least three legislative initiatives fundamental to the governing ANC’s political and election promises run up against time. It’s unlikely any of these three priority areas are going to be wrapped up in 2020.
2020/09/132020/09/22 08:08 AM

The weaknesses shown in public health delivery during the Covid-19 pandemic — most especially in the Eastern Cape — has emboldened a resurgence of National Health Insurance (NHI) protagonists.

The claims of the NHI proponents, however, remain steeped in an emotive and largely naïve assessment that almost exclusively blames the state’s inability to deliver quality care on a perceived maldistribution of resources between the private and public sectors.
2020/09/112020/09/15 08:30 AM

In August the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) authorised the use of two different types of antibody tests for COVID-19.

One rapid, point-of-care antibody test kit.

You can take this test at an accredited laboratory service provider where you can get the results in 10 minutes.
2020/09/15 08:31 AM

The government’s swift action in imposing a hard lockdown within weeks of SA’s first coronavirus case will have averted 16,000 deaths by the end of the year, according to an analysis by SA’s biggest medical scheme administrator, Discovery Health.

Its modelling projects 51,000 deaths from Covid-19 by the end of the year, a figure that would have been 25% higher if there had not been such stringent measures to curb transmission of Covid-19. Its mortality estimates are broadly in line with the Actuarial Society of SA, which said earlier this week that its latest model projects between 27,000 and 50,000 deaths from Covid-19 this year.
2020/09/112020/09/15 08:37 AM

South African health technology company Healthcent (Signapps) has recently won a multi-million rand contract with Britain’s National Health Services (NHS).

The tender was issued by NHSX - the digital arm of NHS England.

NHS trusts will be able to procure these services through a framework agreement from a group of prequalified and individually vetted specialist suppliers of which Signapps is one.

But what does this mean for South Africans and how will it affect us?
2020/09/15 08:27 AM

The national lockdown to curb the spread of COVID-19 took everyone by surprise. After the government declared a State of Disaster in mid-March, most businesses had only a few days to either implement COVID-19 protocols or close their doors for an unknown period of time. By the time level five came into effect, general practitioner (GP) practices were deemed an essential service and healthcare providers prepared for an influx of patients. But in the weeks that followed, a worrying trend saw medical practices unusually quiet – a cause for concern for many GPs, especially those treating chronic patients.

Because primary healthcare is an important service and indicator for the overall management of patients, we looked at our data to help understand the impact on GP businesses and find ways to minimise the patient and financial implications.
2020/09/15 08:34 AM

Even as South Africa’s need for a more equitable health system is being demonstrated, news has broken of large scale corruption in personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement. This latest scandal has made it difficult for a population worn down by corruption to envisage the transformation of the health system into a system of contracting and procurement under National Health Insurance (NHI). A focus on governance and transparency under NHI is desperately needed to foster trust in the new system.

An Auditor-General report released on 2 September found, among other things, that PPE was procured at up to five times the market price. “We have been reporting on and warning about poor financial management controls, a disregard for supply chain management legislation, an inability to effectively manage projects and a lack of accountability in many of the government sectors that now need to lead or support the government’s efforts,” Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu said.
2020/09/15 08:35 AM
DAILY SUN - Page 2

The country needs to use the lessons learnt from co-operation between the public and private health systems during the pandemic to implement Nationa Health Insurance

This was what DA shadow health minister Siviwe Gwarube told Parliament yesterday.
2020/09/092020/09/15 08:18 AM

Trials of one of the most promising, frontrunner vaccines against Covid-19 have been halted after one of its participants developed a “potentially unexplained illness”.

The vaccine was developed by the University of Oxford in partnership with AstraZeneca, and is currently being trialled in South Africa as well as in Brazil, the UK and the US.

2020/09/092020/09/15 08:33 AM

The NHI Bill will resume on the agenda of the normal programme of parliament in the coming weeks as the portfolio committee of health resumes the legislative process.

The Democratic Alliance’s (DA) national oversight tour to healthcare facilities uncovered severe staff shortages, lack of critical care hospital beds and Gauteng spending millions on procuring personal protective equipment (PPE) to companies that did not comply or failed to deliver a service.
2020/09/15 08:25 AM

Researchers from the Human Sciences Research Council and Wits University have found that income-related poor health in South Africa was six times worse than it was before the coronavirus pandemic.

The research was published in The Conversation.

“Poor health was more than proportionately concentrated on the poor. However, the magnitude of income-related inequality in poor health in the Covid-19 period was about six times that of the pre-Covid-19 period, suggesting that the crisis affected the health of the poor far more than the relatively well-off. Furthermore, income-related health inequalities were more pronounced among men and women in both periods.”
2020/09/072020/09/15 08:19 AM

When COVID-19 vaccines come onto the market, poorer countries will have to compete with wealthier ones, who can pay more, for access. Will it help if lower and middle-income countries pool their funds and order vaccines in bulk?

The race to find a COVID-19 vaccine is on — but so is the rivalry among countries around the world for who will have access to such products. Although several manufacturing deals have been signed with pharmaceutical companies to produce large quantities of eventual vaccines, experts agree that, at least initially, manufacturers will be unable to produce enough inoculations for the world’s almost 8 billion people.
2020/09/072020/09/15 08:21 AM

Rich countries set off a global scramble to secure enough vaccines for their populations – long before a vaccine exists – and global demand for a Covid-19 vaccine will outstrip supply for at least 12 to 18 months, experts say. South Africa and all 53 other African countries have signed up for an international mechanism called COVAX to ensure that developing countries are not pushed to the back of the global queue when a Covid-19 vaccine becomes available. Will COVAX work, or will “vaccine nationalism” trump global solidarity?

The race to find effective vaccines for Covid-19 is being outstripped by the race to secure access to them. And with news headlines such as “Covid-19 vaccine could come in late October; White House says no pressure on timing,” the prospect of a vaccine being available “soon” seems tantalisingly close.
2020/09/062020/09/15 08:26 AM

Dozens of South African companies are under investigation for providing substandard personal protective equipment (PPE) which was meant to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, the Sunday Times reports.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) is working alongside the Hawks and the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) on the probe, with four companies already facing charges.
2020/09/042020/09/09 09:12 AM

National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) members handed over a memorandum of demands to government on Thursday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

Deputy health minister Dr Joe Phaahla accepted the memorandum.
2020/09/032020/09/09 09:02 AM

Parliament’s portfolio committee on Health met on Wednesday (2 September) to discuss the next steps needed to allow for the introduction of the new National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.

The committee is currently grappling with the sheer number of responses it has received around the bill, with 32,227 written and 32,634 emailed submissions received.
2020/09/032020/09/09 09:04 AM

A leaked document from the Department of Health shows that South Africa is facing a major shortage in healthcare professionals in the next 10 years.

The document, which was first reported on by Spotlight and Maverick Citizen, shows that the country is facing serious personnel shortages at both a national and provincial level.
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