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It’s undeniable that technology and the internet have changed the way we do things. One of the most important things about the way technology has advanced in the last few years is the way that things are beginning to become connected. A useful way to think of this new interconnectedness is the term ‘The internet of things’ which describes the infrastructure of the information society. In essence this describes how our various technological devices (phones, computers, fitness trackers, heart rate monitors etc) communicate with one another to communicate and capture data. So your phone can tell you if it’s going to rain tomorrow so you should let your boss know you’ll be a few minutes late because of the traffic affecting your uber, and your need to stop off at the drycleaners, and that you should take some vitamins because your heart rate is slightly higher than usual today. In the fields...

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...

ssA landmark study in 2009 found that a vaccine can protect people from HIV infection. The study found that an experimental vaccine was 31.2 percent effective at preventing HIV infection during the 3.5 years after vaccination, and 60 percent effective one year after vaccination. In May 2016, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease in the USA (NIAID) announced that following the success of this earlier trial, the study would be continued pending regulatory approval and expanded in South Africa to a larger group to assess whether it is safe, tolerable and effective in South African adults commencing in November 2016. The success of such a trial would have a significant impact, especially in South Africa where an estimated 11.2 percent of the total population is infected with HIV as of 2015, and more than 6 million people are living with the virus. For adults between 15 and 49, the infection prevalence...

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...

Training on infection control at home for Community Health Care Workers (CHCW) employed by hospice and Redcross in Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Health District (NMBMHD) in the eastern Cape Province. Nelson Mandela Bay Health District has the highest rate of Drug Resistant (DR) TB notified each month with a total of 40-50 patients. Due to this challenge, the National Department of Health has identified a pilot project which aims at reducing transmission of DR- TB in the community. JPS Africa has provided Infection Control (IC) training for DR supporting partners (Red Cross and Hospice nurses and CHCW). The DR supporting partners will supervise and provide health education to DR patients on community DOT. In preparation for the pilot project on Infection control at home, DR patients who are treated in the community whilst smear and culture positive will be getting kits on a monthly basis to prevent those diagnosed and managed at...

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...

By James Thabo Molelekwa. on May 16, 2016 in HIV Prevention, News In Mpumalanga, boys are preparing to head to ‘the mountain’ and return as men. As concerns regarding the safety of some initiation schools mount, a new blend of tradition and medicine may help preserve a centuries-old rite. Mpumalanga Pedi Chief Andries Mokhonto and his son Dr. Itumeleng Tema outside their Kwaggafontein home.  The last born of a Pedi chief, Itumeleng Tema grew up in rural Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga about 100 kms north of Pretoria. In the former KwaNdebele homeland, chiefs may still spend busy mornings attending to community business before meeting in offices adorned with past chief’s photos and clan names. Tema’s life before medical school was wrapped in tradition and after medical school, it called him back. Hundreds of boys have been killed during traditional circumcision in the last decade. While the Eastern Cape leads the country in such deaths, Mpumalanga recorded almost 70 such deaths between...