SA Health Below World Benchmark, Says Renowned UKZN Scientist
South Africa’s health outcomes are still well below the international benchmark despite good policies and a relatively high health expenditure, says renowned clinical infectious diseases Epidemiologist and Director of CAPRISA, Professor Salim Abdool Karim.
Delivering a public lecture on Health in South Africa, Abdool Karim - also the Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University - examined the trends, challenges and opportunities in South Africa.
He cited the high burden of disease, the quadruple colliding epidemics (maternal, new-born and child health), HIV/AIDS and TCV, non-communicable diseases, violence and injury, and a failure to deliver as contributing factors to the health challenges in the country. Challenges also included racial disparities and the inequitable distribution of healthcare provision to the haves and the have-nots.
Giving an example of how some of these problems can be solved, Abdool Karim outlined achievements South Africa was making in the fields of HIV/AIDS and TB.
CAPRISA is currently working on making broadly neutralising antibodies from a South African woman and trials will be done next year to see whether this antibody can protect young women ‘because young women bear the brunt of the HIV infection in South Africa. This could change the way the epidemic is spread in Africa,’ he said.
Abdool Karim, who also serves as CAPRISA’s Professor of Global Health at Columbia University in the United States, said UKZN was best placed to tackle the challenges and to make an impact on healthcare in South Africa.
Words: Raylene Captain-Hasthibeer
Photograph by Albert Hirasen