16 April 2019

Tackling the high price of medicine

15 April 2019 – Kerry Cullinan, Health-e News. Profit seems to be the only logic driving medicine prices, with some African countries paying more for medicine than European countries, and US citizens paying some of the highest medicine prices in the world. There are global efforts to rein in excessive profiteering but removing the secrecy around prices is complicated.

US citizens pay about six times what Europeans do for insulin, the cost of which has almost tripled over a decade in that country, according to the American Diabetes Association. Click here for the full article

World Health Day: Healers face burnout

7 April 2019 - Amy Green, Health-e News. In just three months at least three South African anaesthesiologists have taken their lives, reported the South African Society of Anaesthesiologist’s (SASA) Natalie Zimmelman who said the profession was facing a mental health crisis.

“These are just the cases we know of. I’m afraid it is a far too common story,” she said. Burnout, and related mental health issues, not only endangers individual healthcare workers but threatens the entire health system as anaesthetists are critical for the functioning of any hospital, according to Zimmelman. Click here for the full article 

Discovery says cancer claims have nearly doubled since 2010

10 April 2019 – Nick Hedley, Business Day. Discovery says its health business has seen cancer claims nearly double since 2010.

The number of Discovery Health Medical Scheme members receiving treatment for cancer has increased by 99% since 2010, even though the scheme’s membership numbers have only increased by 24% over that time, the group said on Wednesday. Click here for the full article 

MSF: Secret medicine prices cost lives

10 April 2019 - Candice Sehoma and Gaelle Krikorian, Health-e News. Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is calling upon governments to put an end to the secrecy that rules in the field of pharmaceutical products when they meet this week at the World Health Organisation Fair Pricing Forum to discuss access to essential medicines.

The WHO’s 2nd Fair Pricing Forum meeting, being convened in Johannesburg on 11 – 13 April, brings together governments, academics, and representatives from the pharmaceutical industry and civil society. One of the important topics for discussion is the need for improved transparency in medicines pricing. As individual consumers, it is usually easy to compare the exact prices we will pay for things like cars, clothes and food in order to make informed purchasing decisions. But the same does not hold true for medicines. Prices charged by pharmaceutical corporations vary wildly for the same medicine depending on who’s buying, and the exact prices that are paid are typically shrouded in secrecy. Click here for the full article  

Urban-rural inequalities will hamper a successful NHI

10 April 2019 - Amy Green, Health-e News. Rural areas bear the brunt of healthcare worker shortages and this inequality needs to be solved, before any form of National Health Insurance (NHI) is possible.

Only 12 percent of doctors and less than 20 percent of nurses in the public sector work in rural areas, despite the fact that people living in these areas make up almost half of the country’s population. Click here to read the full article

Psychiatrist guilty of unprofessional conduct for using outdated diagnostic scale

10 April 2019 - Medical Brief. A Johannesburg child psychiatrist who has written a book about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been fined R40,000 by the Health Professionals Council of SA for unprofessional conduct. He had used an outdated diagnostic scale in assisting with the diagnosis of ADHD of a child and then prescribed a treatment plan using Ritalin.

The Times reports that the finding against Dr Brendan Belsham, author of the book What’s the Fuss About ADHD, was delivered on 1 April. The report says Belsham declined to comment. The finding follows a complaint to the council in February 2018 which was levelled against Belsham by Johannesburg father David Nefdt-Epstein. Nefdt-Epstein’s complaint centred on the accuracy of tools Belsham was using to assist in diagnosing children, including his son, with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Belsham diagnosed his son with ADHD in 2017. Click here to read the full article 

Critical shortage of nursing staff in SA with qualified staff down 40%

10 April 2019 - Medical Brief. Nursing as a profession is in danger in South Africa, with the delivery of qualified nursing staff in all nursing categories down by almost 40% in five years, says the trade union Solidarity.

It expressed its concern about the current shortage of nursing staff and the detrimental results of this critical shortage for South African health care. According to an IoL report, Solidarity said according to the payment and staff administration system, Persal, the ratio of nursing staff to the population who visit the public health sector, was one nurse for every 401 people. “These statistics clearly indicate that nursing as a profession is in danger in South Africa, but the impact thereof on good health care for millions of South Africans is inconceivable,” Hennie Bierman, head of occupational guilds at Solidarity is quoted in the report as saying. Click here to read the full article 

Statement by WHO Director-General on World Health Day 2019

6 April 2019 – WHO News Room. WHO was born on 7 April 1948 with a clear and ambitious vision: a world in which all people enjoy the highest attainable standard of health.

Although we have made enormous progress in recent years against some of the world’s leading causes of death and disease, we still have a lot of work to do to realize that vision. Today, half the world’s population cannot access essential health services. Millions of women give birth without help from a skilled attendant; millions of children miss out on vaccinations against killer diseases, and millions suffer and die because they can’t get treatment for HIV, TB, and malaria. In 2019, this is simply unacceptable. Click here for the full article 

Publication date: 4/16/2019