Violence and unintentional injury make up one of the four major health burdens in South Africa, along with HIV and tuberculosis (TB), chronic illness and mental health, and maternal, neonatal and child health. Despite South Africa’s remarkable political transformation, the country has continued to experience staggering levels of morbidity and mortality arising from violence and injury. National information sources have, however, been plagued by concerns of under-reporting and other inconsistencies, with significant differences highlighted by independent mortality studies. The biggest challenge in reducing the burden of violence and injury lies in its prevention and the concerted development of the science to inform it.
Our current health care system is not appropriately addressing the death and disability in our country – we need a major shift to education and prevention.
Falls are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in older persons, and the consequences of a fall may impact an individual severely. The costs related to falls are high for individuals, their family and society at large. Although prevalence rates for falls in older populations have been established in more developed countries, comparatively little is known of the incidence and prevalence, and risk factors for falls in older populations in less developed countries. This article describes a prevalence study conducted in Cape Town. Knowledge of the incidence and prevalence of falls, and associated risk factors, and prevention and effective management of falls are relevant in the public health domain.
As we enter the fourth decade of the HIV epidemic, UNAIDS vision calls for zero discrimination, zero new HIV infections and zero AIDS related deaths through universal access to effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support. Access to antiretroviral therapy provides the potential to curb AIDS related deaths, but there is still a very long way to go. Until fairly recently, most HIV prevention strategies focused on socio-behavioural interventions with condoms, ‘faithful’ relationships and abstinence together being hailed as the main prevention messages. Current strategies include the use of vaginal microbicides and male medical circumcision. Although a lot of progress has been made in the prevention research arena, it is irrefutable that the development of a safe and effective vaccine becomes the best hope for ultimately ending the HIV pandemic. However, the field of HIV vaccine development research is fraught with many extraordinary challenges.
Reducing tobacco use should be the top priority trying to tackle the enormous and growing death toll from non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
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