The public sector strike in South Africa has entered its 13th day.
President Jacob Zuma is particularly concerned about its impact on health and education, Reuters reports today.
Zuma has told government ministers to negotiate without delay to end the strike by some 1.3 million workers, the news agency reports.
RuDASA chairperson Karl le Roux stated that the intimidation, violence and loss of life that has marred the strike must be condemned.
“We also, however, believe that much of the unnecessary loss of life must be laid at the door of government, which after nearly 10 years has still failed to a minimum services agreement in place for essential services.”
RuDASA urged government and unions to reach a miniumum services agreement urgently once the strike was resolved.
The organisation also promised to work on an agreement for rural health facilities in the next two months.
Government needs to produce a rural friendly human resources plan in the next 18 months, it stated.
RuDASA and MSF (Doctors without Borders) held the 14th Annual Rural Health Conference in Swaziland on the weekend under the theme ‘Inspiration without Borders’.
A new Ugandan study offers great hope for people with AIDS in rural areas in Africa needing antiretroviral treatment.
The trial tested a model in which lay-trained counsellors, not doctors or nurses, treated people at home – and they were as healthy as the patients being treated in clinics.
The cluster randomised trial took place in 44 areas in Jinja, Uganda.
The results, published in the Lancet journal online this week, suggested: “This home-based HIV-care strategy is as effective as is a clinic-based strategy.
“(This) could enable improved and equitable access to HIV treatment, especially in areas with poor infrastructure and access to clinic care.”
The researchers found after two and a half years that:
*Home-based ART by trained lay workers achieved equal health gains;
*Reduced mortality, hospital admission and viral supression were used to measure health gains;
*Patient costs were cut by half or more in the home-based care;
*Home-based care cost the health service slightly less.
Supporting the model, an editorial in Lancet stated: “This result provides compelling evidence for rolling out home-based ART to complement facility-based delivery and facilitate access.
“(This is true) especially in rural settings with weak health systems, shortage of clinical staff , and poor patients for whom transport cost and lost work-time provide obstacles to treatment initiation and adherence.”
The results are exciting but Uganda has one huge advantage over South Africa. Stigma around HIV/AID is far less prevalent and people are much more open about having the virus.
Stories don’t always live up to their promise. But the inauguration of the Wits Ndlela Research and Clinical Trials Unit in Bushbuckridge (now the Bohlabelo district) in rural Limpopo yesterday exceeded expectations.
Ndlela truly is a first-class scientific site in the middle of nowhere or, to be more precise, on edge of the Kruger National Park and Mpumalanga.
After landing at the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport early morning, we drove nearly two hours – though only 100km – past citrus, banana and timber plantations, a cellphone mast and a No Stress Barber shack.
The tar road turned into a corrugated mud road which becomes impassable in heavy rains. Villagers living there cannot access health care or any other services in a hurry, even in emergencies.
Despite this, top Wits scientists led by Dr Eftyhia Vardas with partners from Italy are committed to doing research here. Equally impressive, they have the machines and lab needed to conduct clinical trials – at the highest international standards – into HIV, TB and other infectious diseases.
They will focus on the impact of these diseases in the local communities as well as ways to prevent them, for example, vaccines.
They have already started a PIME (prevalence, incidence and molecular epidemiology of HIV) study in the community, who seem supportive of the project.
Ndlela will build on demographic surveillance data collected annually in Agincourt (a subdistrict of Bohlabelo) for the past 16 years by the Wits/Medical Research Council Rural Public Health and Transitions Research Unit.
Ndlela is a new unit, funded by grants, of the Wits Faculty of Health Sciences.
Stefano Butto, director of Italy’s National Aids Center (a partner of Ndlela) and Derek Hanekom, the deputy minister of Science and Technology, were among those excited to be at the inauguration.