17 March 2019

Private hospital group Life Healthcare diversifying business

Business Day 12 March 2019 – Lack of growth in the medical schemes market has resulted in the group exploring ways to provide more services to patients paying out of their own pockets

Life Healthcare began investing in non-acute services several years ago, ranging from rehabilitation to diagnostics, and these “general services” are now the fastest growing part of the South African business, said Viranna.  The group was treating more day-cases in its existing hospital facilities, rather than launching new stand-alone day hospitals, as it was more cost effective, he said. Given the lack of growth in SA’s medical schemes market, which has stagnated at around 8.9-million beneficiaries, Life Healthcare is exploring opportunities to provide more services to patients who pay out of their own pockets, said Viranna. For example, the group recently launched the MyLife clinic at Campus Square in Auckland Park, which offers patients a consultation and basic medication for R300, with a guaranteed turnaround time of no more than half an hour.For the article click here

Regulator can't force Gems to fund drug

Sunday Times 17 March 2019 – Year-long fight for medicine drags on as patient gets sicker

A patient with a rare condition, Gaucher disease, which requires medicine costing more than R3 million a year to treat, has been at the CMS (Council for Medical Schemes) for more than a year and remains unresolved. The patient won her case at the CMS in March last year, and won an appeal in October when the Council ruled that the medicine must be provided because it is life-saving. But the Council is not enforcing its appeal because Gems is appealing again. Are the CMS appeal board decisions binding? For the full article click here

Increase in cases of malaria

Sunday Independent 17 March 2019 – Malaria is on the rise in South Africa because of the lack of urgency in dealing with the disease, experts warn.

In South Africa at least 7 600 cases were recorded annually between 2007 and 2016. But recent WHO statistics showed an increase of up to 16 000 cases by the end of October last year, with an average of 110 deaths. Since malaria is treatable and preventable there was an urgent need to strengthen interventions at grassroots level to prevent untimely deaths.

Cardiology services in heart of Diepkloof

Sunday Independent 17 March 2019 – Sowetans can now access cardiology services on their doorstep

The Clinix healthcare group has opened a cardiac unit at the Dr SK Matseke Memorial Hospital in Diepkloof. The black-owned and managed private healthcare group was recently granted a licence by the Gauteng Department of Health to provide affordable services where they are most needed.

Growth drug shortage an impediment

Sunday Independent 17 March 2019 – The shortage of the transitioning hormone medication Depo-Testosterone has left many transgender people in limbo

Pfizer, issued a statement reassuring patients that it would resume normal supply by the end of March. The alternative form of testosterone Nebido is a lot more expensive.

Anti-fraud effort pays off

Saturday Star 16 March 2019 – Discovery employs a specialised team of more than 100 analysts and a forensic software system to analyse claims data and identify unusual claims patterns.

Last year Discovery Health’s efforts to curb fraud resulted in a substantial R555 million recovered on behalf of schemes it administers. Of the 5 443 cases that were reported for possible irregularities, concerns were confirmed on about 75% of investigations.

Afrocentric building empire in the healthcare sector

Business Day 14 March 2019 - The investment company that owns Medscheme has become the biggest dispenser of medicines by script volumes in SA

It’s not an obvious association, but Afrocentric, the listed BEE healthcare investment company that owns Medscheme, has quietly become the biggest dispenser of medicines by script volumes in the country. Through a deal with the department of health in 2018, the company’s pharmacy courier unit Pharmacy Direct now dispenses more than 1-million scripts a month in KwaZulu-Natal, through its agreement to supply chronic medicines to public collection points. At the same time, it’s leapt feet first into drug manufacturing with the deal to buy the 74% it did not own in Activo Health, a SA-based generics pharmaceutical manufacturing company that makes ARVs and over the counter products under the Plusssz range, among others. For the article click here

SIU to probe state’s national lab service for corruption

Business Day 14 March 2019 - The Special Investigating Unit probe will cover more than a dozen tenders, ranging from the provision of computers to leasing vehicles

President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to probe the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) for corruption. The SIU is to investigate “multiple allegations of maladministration, improper or unlawful conduct and intentional or negligent loss of public money”, the presidency said in a statement issued on Thursday. The allegations cover the period from July 1 2015 to the present. For the article click here

SA’s healthcare industry needs to harness the power of technology to improve outcomes

Business Day 14 March 2019 - The effect of technology on the healthcare industry was the focus of Business Day Dialogues with Life Healthcare

Technology has been a game changer in a myriad industries so it makes sense that it will ultimately disrupt the healthcare industry in the same way. The opportunities offered by technology and its potential effect on the healthcare industry were the focus of Business Day Dialogues in association with Life Healthcare, held in Johannesburg recently. Technological advancements are expected to drive better quality healthcare, grow accessibility and even lower costs. “We can’t ignore the influences of our ageing population, pricing pressure, consumerism, and technology, which will all force innovative thinking in moving us forward in healthcare,” said Dr Shrey Viranna, group CEO of Life Healthcare. For the article click here

Novel TB treatment ups patients’ odds

Business Day 14 March 2019 - New compound to treat drug-resistant TB developed by TB Alliance, combined with two other medicines, cured 89% of patients in SA study

A promising new treatment for extensively drug-resistant (XDR) tuberculosis (TB) that was tested in SA has been submitted to US regulators, taking its developers a step closer to providing patients with far better odds of defeating the disease. XDR-TB is a strain of the disease that is resistant to a wide range of antibiotics, and consequently difficult to treat. Although the outlook for patients in SA has improved with the recent introduction of Johnson & Johnson’s Bedaquiline, the cure rate is still only about 60%. The new treatment includes the novel chemical entity pretomanid, developed by the TB Alliance, with generic linezolid, and Bedaquiline. This “BPaL” regimen cures 89% of patients, according to the interim results of the Nix-TB trial, presented at the Union World Conference on Lung Health in 2018. For the article click here

Gauteng's plan to clear surgery backlog

BizCommunity 14 March 2019 - In a bid to address surgical backlogs, Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa has sent a letter of request to facilitate a handover of the site where Soshanguve District Hospital will be built.

Once built, the hospital is set to alleviate a backlog at Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital (DGMAH). According to the MEC, the Soshanguve District Hospital is progressing slowly due to land issues.In the interim, the department has collaborated with private hospitals to make use of their theatres, through the Hospital Association of South Africa, Mediclinic in particular, which has signed a memorandum of understanding with the department. The partnership has been successfully tested and ready to be expanded. For the article click here

Are foreigners really entitled to free healthcare in South Africa?

BizCommunity 13 March 2019 - Directives recently issued by the national and Gauteng health departments requiring foreign nationals to pay in full for healthcare at public facilities weren't only a threat to public health, they may have been downright illegal.

As a public interest law organisation, we believe that Gauteng’s circular was unlawful in that it had the potential to withhold previously available services from patients, contravened the National Health Act and could have led to violations of people’s constitutional rights. It also threatened to derail progress towards HIV targets contained in the country’s latest national plan that require 90% of all people to know their HIV status and 90% of those to be on antiretrovirals. For the article click here

Global shortage of DT vaccine shortage fuels SA anxiety

Medical Brief 13 March 2019 - South Africa’s protracted nationwide shortage of a child vaccine aimed at protecting two common, yet life-threatening diseases, has left a slew of anxious parents in its wake.

Reports of a critical shortage of the DT vaccine – which is the tetanus and diphtheria toxoid immunisation given when a child is six – date as far back as early last year. The report quotes some parents as saying that they still were turned away from their local clinics around Johannesburg as a result of the shortage and the resultant stockouts this year. For the article click here

SA’s ‘sobering’ HIV drug-resistance figures

Medical Brief 13 March 2019 - One in six people not on treatment in a large South African household survey already had drug-resistant HIV and more than half of those on treatment had resistance to at least one drug

The sobering assessment of the extent of antiretroviral drug resistance in the South African population led researchers to call for prioritisation of integrase inhibitor use in first-line regimens and the stepping up of adherence support for people on antiretroviral treatment. Earlier switches from failing regimens are also needed to prevent the development of further drug resistance. With over 4.4m people already on treatment, South Africa’s HIV treatment programme is the largest in the world. For the article click here

WHO puts influenza plan in place

BizCommunity 12 March 2019 - The World Health Organisation (WHO) has released a Global Influenza Strategy for 2019-2030 aimed at protecting people in all countries from the threat of influenza.

The goal of the strategy is to prevent seasonal influenza, control the spread of influenza from animals to humans, and prepare for the next influenza pandemic. For the article click here

New drug shows promise for treating sepsis

BizCommunity 11 March 2019 - Research into a new breakthrough therapy in the fight against sepsis has shown that a drug has potential to stop all sepsis-causing bacteria from triggering organ damage in the early stages of the condition.

The pre-clinical trial of InnovoSep, carried out by researchers at RCSI (Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland), has demonstrated that the drug also has the potential to stop progression of sepsis to multiple organ failure in the later stages. Principal Investigator on the research, Professor Steve Kerrigan, associate professor in pharmacology at RCSI and inventor of InnovoSep said: “There is only a short window of opportunity for treatment of sepsis with the early administration of antibiotics and fluid. However, in many cases antibiotics are not effective due to drug resistance or delays in identifying the type of bacteria that has caused the infection. Therefore, there is a need for a non-antibiotic therapy that can be used at all stages of infection against all bacterial causes of sepsis”. For the article click here

Publication date: 3/17/2019