South Africa’s Health Care System Will Become Overburdened by HIV/AIDS Patients, Researchers Say
HIV/AIDS over the next few years will drive up the cost of health services in South Africa, and by 2007 the country's public health sector will become strained as large numbers of HIV-positive people develop AIDS-related illnesses, according to researchers at the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. Although the exact impact of the epidemic on South Africa's health infrastructure is unknown, HIV/AIDS patients could soon account for 60% to 70% of hospital expenditures, according to HEARD researcher Nina Veenstra. She added that while the demand for care will increase, the country's supply of health care workers will decrease. Health workers remaining in the country therefore will experience increased workloads, leading to burnout, higher absenteeism and low staff morale. In addition, the strain that the epidemic will place on the health care system will result in decreased quality of care and available services. The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa has called on South Africa's Department of Health to train more nurses, saying health facilities should offer better salaries, working conditions and material resources to retain staff. The government also should implement an efficient community-based care system to free up hospital beds, according to HSRC senior researcher Elsje Hall (IRIN/AllAfrica.com, 8/9).
South African Businesses Increase Efforts To Address HIV/AIDS
Large companies in South Africa -- such as Eskom -- De Beers and Anglo American, in recent years have increased efforts to test their workers for HIV and provide treatment for staff living with HIV/AIDS, Reuters reports. Power utility company Eskom says it provides antiretroviral drugs for HIV-positive workers and bases manager bonuses on how many of their staff have visited the company's testing and counseling clinic. De Beers also provides antiretrovirals for workers even after they leave the company. Anglo says it hopes to increase its South African employee testing rate from 21% in 2004 to 50% this year. The New York-based Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS said the three companies are "global trend-setters" but that small companies need to do more to address HIV/AIDS, according to Reuters (Macharia, Reuters, 8/9). GBC plans to release a guide for business managers on how small businesses can encourage staff members to undergo HIV testing. GBC representatives said some of the suggestions include urging small companies to join together to obtain better insurance rates, purchase condoms or medicines in bulk and share information on HIV/AIDS case management in the workplace (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/8).