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VOA News Examines South Africa’s Rural Public Health Sector

VOA News features a five-part series on South Africa’s rural public health sector, which the news service writes is “plagued by a high burden of infectious diseases, severe doctor and nurse shortages, lack of medicines and essential medical equipment and incompetent management,” resulting in high patient death rates. “Eighty percent of South Africa’s population of about 50 million people depends on public health care,” the news service notes. In the first part of the series, VOA writes that “international health care monitoring groups … consistently rate South Africa’s public health sector among the worst in the world,” “despite the fact that the government gives more than 100 billion rand ($13.3 billion) every year to state health — one of the biggest expenditures on such services in the developing world.”

VOA discusses how high rates of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and diarrhea are straining the system, and notes that a shortage of medicines and other essentials, along with a critical doctor shortage, are further exacerbating the problem (Taylor, 5/1). Parts two through five of the series include a profile of South Africa’s Zithulele Hospital, a profile of Australian physiotherapist Laura Grobicki’s work at Zithulele, a piece examining the role of physiotherapists and occupational and speech therapists in the survival of HIV-infected patients in South Africa, and a profile of Thembinkosi Motlhabane, “a previously poor hut dweller in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province, [who] is now a medical doctor at a local hospital” (Taylor, 5/1).