On Sunday, GroundUp published an opinion piece by South African health experts from the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM) and the University of Cape Town (UCT), saying that the country needs to prioritise other preventable diseases too.
They say that it is now time to develop a longer-term response, using what is known and still factoring in what is not. They say that it is important that South Africa considers the effect of the lockdown on other diseases, which claims more South African lives.
The article reports that approximately 200 000 people’s lives in South Africa are claimed by TB and HIV alone. This excludes surgical conditions, cardiometabolic disease, cancer and other chronic conditions. The experts say that while many in disadvantaged conditions will be fighting against the global pandemic, they still lack the necessary care for the comorbidities mentioned above and this has shown detrimental results.
“In the past two months, thousands of patients whose chronic conditions would have been managed electively in clinics and with planned interventions have now started presenting acutely with more severe organ failure because of lack of elective clinical services,” the experts say.
For this reason, experts have asked that the Covid-19 strategy be reevaluated to include care for other diseases that South Africans struggle with so that the health services does not put too much value on Covid-19, aiding in the suffering of others with preventable diseases.
Contributors to the opinion piece include:
- Linda-Gail Bekker: Chief Operating Officer; Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM)
- Valerie Mizrahi: Director and Full Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
- Ntobeko Ntusi: Head and Chair of Medicine and Clinical Lead for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa
- Tom Moultrie: Professor of Demography, Centre For Actuarial Research (CARe), University of Cape Town
- Tracey Naledi: Deputy Dean: UCT Faculty of Health Sciences
- Mark Hatherill: Director of South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative (SATVI) & Full Member of the Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM)
- Debbie Bradshaw: Intramural Research Units, South African Medical Council
- Rob Dorrington: Research in Demography; Indirect estimation of demographic parameters; mortality; migration; population projection in Southern Africa at The Centre for Actuarial Research
- Robin Wood: CEO, Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation & Director, Desmond Tutu HIV Centre, & Full Member, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine (IDM)