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Lancet Series Examines Health Issues In South Africa

The journal Lancet published a series of articles examining health issues in South Africa, suggesting that “South Africa’s health system is failing women and children in particular, but that new leadership could solve many of the problems,” the Associated Press/msnbc.com reports (8/24).

According to Agence France-Presse, South Africa’s health system “has been transformed into a comprehensive national service 15 years after the end of apartheid.” However, “the country faces a collision of epidemics including AIDS and tuberculosis, as well as a high level of deadly violence and poor services for mothers and children,” the news service reports (Brooks, 8/24). “Although South Africa is considered a middle-income country in terms of its economy, it has health outcomes” that are behind those in “many lower income countries,” South African doctors wrote in the journal, according to BusinessDay.

Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet, said, “You cannot achieve dramatic change overnight but you can achieve it faster than many people think. Under Jacob Zuma there is a chance for a fresh start” (Kahn, 8/25).

On Tuesday, at a meeting in Johannesburg, South African Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi “listened attentively as researchers detailed the findings” of the issue devoted to South Africa, AP/msnbc.com reports (8/24).

The New York Times writes that the “embrace” of the series of six articles by Motsoaledi provides “evidence that the long often strained relationship between the government and the country’s senior medical researchers, who at times saw their cutting-edge scientific findings ignored by their political leaders, could be coming to an end.”

“We do take responsibility for what has happened and responsibility for how we move forward,” said Motsoaledi. “I am feeling quite at home and comfortable with this Lancet report, he added” (Dugger, 8/24).

Health-e examined findings from the series of articles (Cullinan, 8/25), as well as one of the studies that focuses on HIV-TB coinfection in the country (Cullinan [2], 8/25).