Category: Articles

Nature’s Medicine

South Africa has a wealthy supply of plants. With about 25 000 known species found here, this country is third only to Brazil and Indonesia as far as biodiversity is concerned. Most people are unaware that a significant percentage of the active ingredients used in modern medicine originated from plants. The goal of my research team (myself and my postgraduate students) is to scientifically explore and test South Africa’s indigenous plants and see which of them could possibly provide chemical compounds that could be of benefit to all mankind.

Reversing the HIV epidemic in South Africa: an insider’s view?

South African communities have been significantly affected by HIV/AIDS. Whilst we have made some progress in arresting the epidemic, there are still far too many new infections and far too many people not on treatment and being initiated on treatment too late. The task of reaching the MDG targets and our NSP targets depends on an enhanced whole of society response. The Department of Health is ready to scale up our response as outlined in this article.

Transiting from MDGs to SDGs and Post-2015 Developmental Agenda: Continuity or Transformation?

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have passed and the post-2015 has dawned upon us whereby we have to renew and rename our developmental goal’s vows in the form of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Post-2015 developmental agenda. Africa still lags behind in achieving envisaged developmental goals, particularly health related developmental goals. It is therefore timely to ask, is it authentic for the African continent to agree and set goals on a ground that maintains, or even better, sustains the current status quo of inequity and inaccessibility? Or should we not seek transformation of the inherited legacies and structures in order to progressively combat the challenges we are faced with?

The Ban on Alcohol Advertising in South Africa

South Africa faces a formidable threat to public health attributable to alcohol use and misuse. The use of alcohol is associated with a range of adverse chronic health and economic consequences. Although the ban on alcohol advertising has been on the South African government’s agenda for more than five years, the past two years has seen increased public dialogue between the South African government, academic, civil society organisations and the alcohol and advertising industries on a proposed ban on alcohol advertising in South Africa.

Implementation of HPV vaccination in South Africa

The rates of cervical cancer deaths in low- and middle-income countries are rising. Cervical cancer prevention should therefore be addressed as part of the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 to 2035. One of the most important recent advances in cervical cancer prevention is the prevention of hrHPV infection through vaccination. HPV vaccination programmes will have the most significant impact in countries like South Africa with a high HPV prevalence, low compliance to screening, high lost to follow up, and limited resources for management of women with HPV associated precancerous lesions or cancer. How far is South Africa with the rollout? And what will the impact of HPV vaccination be?

Quality healthcare for all children – where are we in achieving the MDGs for maternal and child health?

At the UN General Assembly in 2000 more than 150 global leaders, including the President of South Africa, signed the Millennium Declaration. MDG 4 that states that all countries will reduce the under 5 mortality rate (U5MR) by two thirds by 2015 from the base year of 1990. For South Africa this would mean bringing it down to a rate of 20/1,000 live births. MDG 5 states that all countries will reduce by three quarter the maternal mortality ratio (MMR). For South Africa this means reaching a MMR of 38/100,000 live births by 2015. So 2015 is a year to take stock of where we are with regards to the MDGs as well as prioritize actions based on lessons learned for the next phase, namely to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030).

Global health issues and responses – paradigm shifts needed

This brief article summarises some of the key themes of my two plenaries at the PHASA 2014 conference: the first for the PHASA delegates and the second for the Junior PHASA conference attendees. Both presentations were based on my current book, Transforming Medical Education for the 21st Century: Megatrends, Priorities and Change, which complements and builds on the seminal Lancet Commission report on ‘health professionals for a new century’ and my forthcoming book, Global Population Health and Well-Being in the 21st Century: Towards New Paradigms, Policy and Practice.

Honouring Russel Botman’s legacy of Justice, Transformation and Inclusivity – the Ukwanda experience.

The theme of the PHASA conference ‘dignity, rights and quality: towards a healthcare revolution’ is well positioned in the global agenda. In June 2014, the University of Stellenbosch experienced the untimely death of the Rector of our university, Russell H. Botman. The theme of this paper is the legacy of Prof Botman. At the time of his appointment in 2007, he challenged the university community to answer the following two questions: How do we link academic/research expertise and excellence to the international development goals?; How can we provide scientific solutions to tough societal challenges? In this light, the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences started the Ukwanda initiative, specifically the Ukwanda Rural Clinical School.

Towards a strong public health research program in traditional and complementary and alternative medicine

Traditional, complementary and alternative medicine (TCAM) includes a wide range of both indigenous and imported health practices, technologies, medicines and systems of care that exist predominantly beyond the public health care system, clinical practices of conventional doctors and the medical curriculum. While there is increasing interest in TCAM within the public health research community worldwide, there remains much room for further investigation and understanding of these prevalent practices and health care systems.

Refugees from Somalia, Iran and Afghanistan in the Netherlands: health over time after resettlement

Little is known about how resettlement impacts health of refugees in Europe, and more specifically, which factors contribute to physical and mental health improvements of refugees after resettling in a West European country. In the Netherlands, the practical situation for refugees changes dramatically at the moment of getting a residence status. In which way do those important changes affect the mental and general health of refugees after resettlement in Dutch municipalities? This study tried to fill the gap in evidence on the course of health and health care utilisation after resettlement.

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