‘Pressure’ to Fight HIV/AIDS Might Hamper South African Government’s Efforts to Combat Heart Disease
Although heart disease is poised to become South Africa's "next health tragedy," some doctors are questioning whether the government will turn its attention away from HIV/AIDS to address it, the Baltimore Sun reports. Dr. Anthony Mbewu, executive director of research at the Medical Research Council of South Africa, said that high blood pressure and other risk factors for heart disease are increasing among the country's population due to lifestyle changes such as more access to sedentary jobs and an increase in the consumption of fast food. Health officials warn that heart disease will grow among blacks in South Africa and place "new burdens on a taxed health system," but they question whether the government "will be ready to meet the challenge." The Sun reports that the government might be hesitant to fund heart disease prevention efforts because of the "pressure" to control HIV/AIDS. Mbewu agrees that securing funding for heart disease prevention might be difficult, stating, "Policy makers are so fully preoccupied with AIDS that heart disease is like a distraction. They should deal with the No. 1 health crisis, but they should not forget the No. 2 health crisis." Mbewu added, "There is more to dying in South Africa than HIV/AIDS," he said (Murphy, Baltimore Sun, 8/16).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.