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The focus of JPS Africa’s newsletter this month is on Voluntary Medical male Circumcision. In collaboration with the Department of Health, JPSA focusses on strengthening multiple efforts to meet key, national targets set out in the National Strategic Plan and the various other HIV/AIDS policy statements and strategic documents. In this regard, JPSA strives to provide a comprehensive, rights based approach to HIV/AIDS programming that is cognizant of the need for effective integration of services including TB/HIV, family planning, human rights and gender issues. In addition, all programs are supported by capacity building in monitoring and evaluation as a focus area for our support to its partners. The HIV prevalence among the male population in SA is 18.8% with a low circumcision rate 45%. The male circumcision procedure only partially protects men from HIV transmission. VMMC is offered by JPSA as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention services which include screening...

Medical male circumcision (MMC) has been shown to reduce the risk of female to male HIV infection and STIs by as much as 60%, as well as reducing the risks of prostate and cervical cancer. This is because it is associated with reduced penile human papillomavirus (HPV) which has been linked to cervical cancer. These benefits are long lasting. Once the circumcision takes place the patient will benefit from the prevention throughout his life. In addition, it could reduce the spread of HIV to women as well, as fewer men contract disease over time, so their female partners are better protected as well. Research has shown that VMMC is not only effective in reducing HIV incidence but also reduces the financial costs of the HIV response. In a country with such a high number of HIV cases, this is an important fiscal decision. According to mathematical models, every dollar spent on VMMC has...

The International AIDS conference kicked off in South Africa in July 2016, and was an opportunity for partners to strategise on addressing the remaining barriers to ending the spread of HIV. A bullet in the arsenal against the spread of HIV is Voluntary Male Medical Circumcision (VMMC). Medical male circumcision has been shown to reduce the risk of female to male HIV infection and STIs by as much as 60%. Furthermore, MMC also affords a reduction in risk of prostate cancer and cervical cancer for female sex partners. To address the spread of HIV/AIDS, the WHO upscaled efforts to promote VMMC in 2011 in target countries in the sub-Saharan Africa region. The results have been positive. In 2013, 2.7 million men volunteered to be circumcised in 14 priority countries, bringing the total number of VMMCs in the region to 5.82 million males circumcised since 2008. The target for VMMC by the end...

For decades the World Health Organisation (WHO) has advocated for mothers to breastfeed their children rather than use formula or breast milk substitutes. Their position is that breast milk provides the best nutrition, and protection against a range of diseases including respiratory diseases, childhood obesity, and diarrhoeal diseases. They note that suboptimal breastfeeding contributes to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of infants each year. In line with this policy perspective, the WHO set a target that by 2025, 50% of all mothers should use exclusive breastfeeding within the first six months of a child’s life, and ideally continue breastfeeding up to one year. They outline four actions that need to be taken in order to meet this target, one of which is to significantly limit the marketing of breast milk substitutes, and strengthen the monitoring and enforcement of legislation related to the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes...

In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set a target to “ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all at all ages.” The goal contains a list of set targets relating to maternal health, child health, HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and improving the uptake of preventative medicine. Will South Africa be able to meet these? The first part of this blog series looked at the challenges South Africa faces in ensuring that there are enough doctors for the public health sector. But it is not simply the doctors and nurses that help to make a system work. It is also the infrastructure, management and the environment. Doctors and nurses can go to work, but when the conditions are poor, this can influence both their ability and willingness to work well. This will impact on the patient most significantly. Over the past few years there have been reports of corruption in health facilities...

In 2015 the Millennium Development Goals reached their deadline, with South Africa among the countries that did not meet all of their targets. South Africa’s health system is faced with a number of challenges – the burden of communicable diseases, high HIV infection rates, diseases related to poor diet, and a shortage of health-care professionals in both the public-and-private sector. In any complex system, the approach that must be taken to addressing challenges must itself be complex. This two-part series looks at the health practitioners, and the health facilities to consider where opportunities and challenges exist. The Constitution makes a commitment to providing affordable healthcare for people. With only a small percentage of South Africans on a medical aid that enables them to seek private health care, the public health system is most South Africans’ first port of call when ill. It’s obvious then that what is needed is enough adequately equipped...