Archived Articles

Minister urges provinces to pay lab debs

HEALTH Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi wants a law to be enacted to provide for a mechanism that will ensure the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) do not depend on provincial departments for funding.  “We believe it is important that NHLS is directly funded from the fiscus as opposed to provinces as there is no law to force them (provincial departments) to pay up,” Motsoaledi said yesterday.

GlaxoSmithKline to go for smart tech

Major drug makers are grappling with the effects of technology as digital apps offer patients new ways to monitor their health. GlaxoSmithKline has appointed former Wal-Mart Stores executive Karenann Terrell to the new senior position of chief digital and technology officer as the drug maker begins to move to smart tech systems.

Patientrelated information must be respected

Any patient-related information within the doctor-patient relationship is sacrosanct, and must be respected, even after death. The South African Medical Association (Sama) said this following the release, and subsequent withdrawal, of a book detailing the last days of former president Nelson Mandela.The book was written by former SANDF Surgeon-General Dr Vejay Ramlakan, who was part of the medical team treating Mandela in the months before his death.

Drug resistance a major setback to HIV fight

More and more countries are reaching the “threshold” of resistance to the most commonly-used HIV drugs which could “undermine global progress in treating and preventing HIV”, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). HIV drug resistance occurs when individuals do not take their medicines as prescribed. This gives the virus a chance to mutate to the point where the medication no longer works to suppress it - allowing it to multiply and make a person open to infections that can make them sick.

US plan to cut global AIDS funding has SA on edge

The US is the biggest international donor to SA’s HIV/AIDS efforts, but Trump's proposed budget puts this funding at risk.The Department of Health is anxiously waiting to see if the US Congress approves President Donald Trump’s proposed cuts to global health programmes, as its decision could reduce donor support for HIV/AIDS in SA.

Mental illnesses costing SA billions

Mental health spend has increased by more than 80% in the past five years, reaching R2bn in 2016 with hospitalisation claims amounting to R32m more than predicted, according to Discovery Health CEO Dr Jonathan Broomberg. "Mental health spend increased by 87% over the past five years (from 2011 to 2016)," said Broomberg.

Cooperative bank for healthcare sector launched

The health economy received a boost with the launch of MediCoop CFI, a cooperative bank which is exclusive to the healthcare sector. MediCoop CFI offers healthcare professionals access to capital and investment. Although the concept of a cooperative bank has been tried and tested globally, it is new to the health sector in South Africa. 

Mediclinic CE Danie Meintjes to retire

The CE has been at the helm of the private hospital group since 2010 and oversaw the acquisition of Middle East hospital group Al Noor in 2015. Mediclinic International announced on Tuesday that CE Danie Meintjes would retire. Meintjes has been at the helm of the private hospital group since 2010, but his history with the company stretches back to 1985, when he first started as a hospital manager at Mediclinic Sandton.

Rising cost of healthcare fuels selfmedication

During the flu and allergy seasons, consumers turn to self-medication to build up their immune systems, preferring anti-flu tablets, cough medicines and antihistamines to avoid expensive doctor's visits.The rising cost of healthcare means that many South Africans have far less money to spend on treatments for illness. Consumers are thus increasingly opting for self-medication, a trend encouraged by widening access to the internet. A growing number of people are researching their health concerns and potential remedies online, even before seeking the advice of pharmacists. This trend is increasing consumers' confidence in their ability to self-medicate.

Medical aids may know their fate by 2020 under the National Health Insurance

Government and medical aids may be uncomfortable but necessary bedfellows. Medical aids may know their fate under the National Health Insurance (NHI) by 2020, says Paresh Prema, the head of benefits management for the Council for Medical Schemes. In the meantime, the government will seek to capitalise on private sector expertise, which currently serves about nine million South Africans, to help build the NHI, says Precious Matsoso, director general of the health department.

SA urged to tackle NHI as one

Countries that have established national healthcare systems have advised government to consider partnering with the private sector to ensure the National Health Insurance (NHI) plan is successful here. Representatives from these countries say that the only way to silence resistance while ensuring that every citizen has access to quality healthcare is to forge a healthy joint venture with the private sector.

Less choice but also smaller bills as NHI powers up

SPEAKERS at a Board of Healthcare Funders’ conference said members will find their medical schemes radically transformed over the next few years as benefits and benefit options are aligned with the National Health Insurance policy. Vishal Brijlal, a technical adviser on NHI in the Department of Health, told delegates the Council for Medical Schemes will start consulting on the introduction of mandatory membership of medical schemes for those who can afford it, as an interim measure on the path to NHI. Mandatory membership could bring about significant reductions in contributions as schemes will no longer face the cost of anti-selection - admitting members who join schemes only when they are ill and in need of treatment. Committees are being established to rapidly revise the current package of prescribed minimum benefits that all schemes are obliged to provide to align it with the NHI benefit package, which has yet to be detailed.

Gems worried about fraud and antiselection

The Government Employees Medical Scheme (Gems) now provides healthcare cover for almost 57% of eligible public service employees, Gems said in its annual report for 2016, released this week.Gems says it faced numerous challenges last year, including a sharp increase in claims, fraud and anti-selection.

Universal healthcare coverage costs under scrutiny

Cost and implementation remain major hurdles to the implementation of National Health Insurance, conference hears. Access to universal healthcare coverage is crucial for economic development, but the biggest challenges to realising it are cost and implementation. The Department of Health has published a white paper on National Health Insurance (NHI), setting SA on course to provide universal coverage. However, the white paper has raised debate about the efficacy of the department’s proposals.

Apartheid built healthcare inequalities NHI must dismantle them

LIKE birth, revolution is characterised by blood and pain. In a revolution or any radical change, there are two contesting forces - one fighting for change and the other for the status quo. It is understandable that the beneficiaries of the current order will fight tooth and nail to stop the revolution - and National Health Insurance is a revolution in the provision of health. The battle over the implementation of universal health coverage, a plan endorsed by the World Health Organisation, is not happening only in our country.

National Health Insurance NHI white paper is approved

The Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi and his Deputy Dr. Joe Phaahla on Thursday, 29 June 2017 released details of the National Health Insurance (NHI) white paper as approved by Cabinet. The National Health Insurance is a health financing system that pools funds to provide access to quality health care services to all South Africans, based on their health needs and irrespective of their socio-economic status. The NHI represents a substantial policy shift that will necessitate a massive re-organization of the current health system, both private and public. Cabinet has approved the White Paper on the National Health Insurance, to be gazetted as a policy document.

Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi letter to the Health Ombusman Prof Malegapuru Makgoba

The Minister of Health Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi will today, 29 June 2017 write a letter to the Health Ombudsman Prof. Malegapuru Makgoba asking his office to institute an investigation into allegations that drivers, cleaners and other unqualified persons are performing post-mortems in the public health facilities in South Africa.

Universal healthcare tops this years Annual Board of Health Funders Southern Africa conference

The Board of Health Funders (BHF) of Southern Africa will convene in Cape Town, South Africa, for their annual conference next month from 16 to 19 July.

Smoking down due to government restrictions

Smoking rates in South Africa have declined following the years-long ban on cigarette advertising‚ high taxes on cigarettes and the banning of smoking indoors in public places.

Former minister heads up new health care cooperative

MediCoop CFI, the financial cooperative that provides banking services exclusively to members in the health care sector, has appointment Theuns Botha as its managing director.

Africa must reboot its health systems to cope with noncommunicable diseases

When it comes to killer diseases in Africa many people think of infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, or even Ebola. But the reality is that diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease – known as non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – are a major threat.

Regulators are the reason big pharma can charge what it likes

Pharmaceutical companies, such as Aspen, are buying built-in marketing rights, not just drugs, when they purchase other companies.

SA signs innovation agreement with Novartis

A high-level memorandum of understanding (MoU) for medical research and development has been signed between the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), the department of science and technology (DST) and Swiss drug firm, Novartis.

DISCHEM Off to a healthy start

The pharmacy franchise has done very well in its first year of listing and is on an aggressive store roll-out.

Medici medical app launches in South Africa

A medical app, Medici, that is said to be revolutionising the doctor-patient relationship, is now available in South Africa. The next-generation secure messaging app enables users to communicate virtually with medical providers via text, call, or video.

Getting global fees right

There is some controversy about alternative reimbursement models in the commercial healthcare industry. Global fees contracts - where a single payment is made to a healthcare team to cover all costs including hospitals, either monthly, or for a defined episode of care such as hip surgery - have attracted most of the attention.

Slow going for CompComs health market inquiry

South Africa’s private healthcare industry is patiently awaiting news or findings from the Competition Commission’s (CompCom) health market inquiry (HMI).

NDoH in Talks with Healthcare Funders on NHI

“We have the infrastructure to look after 8.5 million people and could expand it to look after anyone who can afford to pay for NHI,” said Anderson. “The rest of the patients would be subsidised or whatever the department decides.”

Costly UK rentals hit Netcare subsidiary

CEO Richard Friedland says PropCo at the last minute changed some of the conditions the company thought were settled.

Supersized South Africa

Fat adults and stunted toddlers – the impact of South Africans’ poor diet is reverberating around the country.

Aspen Faces EU Antitrust Probe Over Pricing of Cancer Drugs

Aspen Pharmacare Holdings Ltd. faces a European Union antitrust probe for ramping up the price of cancer drugs as the EU joins a global crackdown on the soaring cost of life-saving generic medicines.

District hospitals performing well

DESPITE ongoing complaints about treatment in government hospitals, a recent study on service delivery showed all provincial district hospitals in the Western Cape were compliant and were performing well against most standards. The report, which was released by the Public Service Commissioner (PSC), was based on a monitoring and evaluation study conducted at all 33 district hospitals in the province. The overall score was above 79 percent. The study, which was finalised last month, showed that the majority of hospital staffers at provisional district hospitals were courteous and respectful. The budget management for the 2015/16 year showed the majority of hospitals either overspent or underspent beyond a two percent threshold set by the department and the Treasury. The overall result for this principle was an average of 62.06 percent - meaning that hospitals were partially compliant.

Why the NHI may take softer approach

Cabinet subcommittee to vote on revised health insurance plan, which Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi says will initially let private plans continue.

NHI to go ahead against any obstacle

NATIONAL Health Insurance (NHI), aimed at introducing affordable healthcare for all South Africans, will be implemented whether there is opposition to it or not. These were the stern words of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Health, and Naledi Pandor, Minister of Science and Technology. Both Ministers are part of the ANC national executive committee sub-committee on health, education, and science and technology. Motsoaledi said the government had a constitutional responsibility to provide affordable healthcare to all citizens, irrespective of their economic status. He said the World Health Organisation recommended that countries spend five percent of their gross domestic product on healthcare, but that South Africa spends more than the recommended amount, and in a disproportionate manner.

Whats behind Life Healthcares troubles in the UK

Group’s interim earnings plummet on Alliance Medical acquisition.

China supports AUs plans to set up centres to control and detect disease in Africa

THE Chinese government has thrown its weight behind the AU’s plans to set up African Centres for Disease Control in the hope that early detection and treatment of diseases, such as the Ebola virus, will stymie the devastation of such outbreaks. At a press briefing titled China Africa Health Co-operation, in Beijing last week, China’s Health Ministry spelt out its commitment to improving healthcare on the African continent. Feng Yong, deputy director-general of the department of international co-operation at China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, said health experts met members of the AU in Ethiopia to finalise building African Centres for Disease Control. The centre’s headquarters would be in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa and would take three years to build. A further five regional centres would be built in Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria, Egypt and Gabon.

Healthcare fraud is not a victimless crime

Imagine finding out that your pharmacist or doctor has been arrested for submitting an account for care that was not administered, or for over-billing for supplies and services. Imagine finding out that he or she falsified patient data to obtain a higher payments from medical schemes, or had been paid kickbacks to refer patients to a specific specialist or clinic.

SAs healthcare ranked 119 out of 195 countries

SA was ranked 119 out of 195 countries in the Healthcare Access and Quality Index published by medical journal Lancet on Friday.

July conference to look at pharmacists role in NHI

Pharmacists are gearing up to play a key role under National Heath Insurance (NHI) when SA enters the second phase of implementing the universal health coverage policy.

African leaders discuss healthcare innovation

Representatives from over 20 African countries met for the Innovation Effect conference at the Durban International Convention Centre where they discussed health innovations and research in Africa, as well as how to address major health issues facing the continent.

Debt cripples health services warns Gauteng MEC

The budget of the province’s health department grew from R37.6bn in 2016 to R40.2bn in 2017.

National Strategic Plan for HIV TB STIs

THE long-awaited National Strategic Plan (NSP) on HIV, TB and STIs has finally been unveiled by the South African National Aids Council (SANAC), a body responsible for building consensus across government, civil society and all other stakeholders to drive an enhanced country response to HIV, TB and STIs. The NSP 2017 - 2022 serves as a roadmap for the next stage of a journey towards a future where these three diseases are no longer public health problems. The five-year plan sets out the destinations – or goals - of a shared journey and establishes landmarks in the form of specific measurable objectives. The purpose of the NSP is to enable the many thousands of organisations and individuals who drive the response to HIV, TB and STIs to act as a concerted force, moving in the same direction.

HIV patients aged 20 will see their 70s

A LANDMARK report reveals that patients diagnosed with HIV today can expect to live well into their mid-seventies. The study, published in the Lancet medical journal, highlights the progress made in treatment of the virus in the last three decades. As recently as the 1980s an HIV diagnosis was considered a death sentence because the virus invariably triggered the disease AIDS. However, effective antiretroviral drugs mean patients today often live as long as a healthy person. The study, led by experts at Bristol University, was greeted as marking “a tremendous medical achievement”.

Healthcare funders happy to talk

Director-general Precious Matsoso pleads with medical schemes and stakeholders to come up with innovative and inclusive ideas.

Netcare earnings likely to increase

Healthcare group  Netcare, with South African and UK operations,  released a trading update in which it informed its shareholders that it expects a rise in earning for the six months to end March.

Healthcare is becoming big business in Africa albeit slowly

THE Yaya Chemist in a smartish downtown Nairobi shopping centre is more than a place to pick up prescriptions or buy cough syrup, shampoo and mosquito spray. In one corner is a tiny consultation room, where customers can have simple tests performed and receive medical advice. It costs roughly 50c to have blood pressure checked, $2 for blood-sugar levels and $10 for cholesterol levels. In similar pharmacies across Africa, patients can access services from "nutritional consultations" to HIV and malaria tests.

Opportunity beckons in life sciences arena

South Africa should consider creating a special economic zone for health-care companies to improve its current $3.2-billion (R43.7bn) market share of the continent’s life sciences products industry. This is according to professional services firm Deloitte.

The right medicine to lift intra Africa trade

Adcock said a R470m state incentive had enabled it to expand its Germiston manufacturing facility’s capacity.

Sanofi pegs US drug price rises to below healthcare inflation

French drugmaker Sanofi has pledged to peg U.S. drug price rises to below healthcare inflation in a move that limits increases for any product this year to 5.4 percent, unless there are exceptional circumstances.

Codeine addiction is on the rise

Codeine addiction is on the rise‚ but SA lacks people who are specifically trained to treat it.

Dieticians for diabetics an essential investment

New guidelines for treatment and prevention make the case for prioritising dieticians but there is little buy-in from government.

Women leading HIV prevention fight

In the small maternity ward of a run-down health clinic in Delft, a half-hour drive from Cape Town, the wooden benches in the waiting area are filled with young women and girls from the poor surrounding townships.

Generic meds could save SA millions

The word ‘generic’ may seem less appealing than the phrase “original brand”. However, if you’re ill, choosing generic medication over the original will save you money.

Fitter Aspen will still lick reputation wounds

THE Aspen share price is slowly digging itself out of the hole into which it fell after the price-gouging allegations hit the international headlines just more than a week ago. Given that ethical issues seem to matter to investors only when controversy sticks and that news about the out-of-patent cancer drug controversy has died down (for now), it’s likely the share price will recover much of its losses.

SA drug producers urge patients to demand generics

Generic medicines use could save on costs, says industry association.

World Health Organisation report dismissed because it failed to provide the underlying data

The Competition Commission’s health-market inquiry would not accept a controversial report on private hospital prices commissioned by the World Health Organisation (WHO) because it failed to provide the underlying data, it announced on Thursday.

2017 Global Medical Trend Rates

Aon Hewitt is pleased to present the results of its 2017 survey of average medical trend rates from countries around the world. The survey was conducted among Aon Hewitt offices that broker, administer, or otherwise advise on medical plans that are established and managed by employers in each of the 91 countries covered in this report. The survey responses reflect the medical trend expectations of the Aon professionals, clients, and carriers represented in the portfolio of Aon medical plan business in each country. The trend rates presented in this report do not include any allowances for potential employer countermeasures such as cost-containment plan amendments or the impact of any attendant employer negotiations with carriers.


02 August 2017: South Africa – At the recent 3rd Annual Titanium Awards, the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) of Southern Africa honoured public and private healthcare sector organisations in the SADC region.

Launched in 2014, the Awards are an important event in recognising and celebrating excellence in the healthcare sector.

1952 to 2017 Remembering a healthcare visionary

Dr Humphrey Zokufa was born in Somerset East, in the Eastern Cape, on the 25th October 1952. He attended Primary School in a village called kwaNojoli. He completed high school at Healdtown Comprehensive School, a Methodist school located near Fort Beaufort.

He obtained his Bachelor of Pharmacy degree from the University of the North in Limpopo and went on to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and a Post-doctoral Fellowship from the University of Minnesota, St Paul Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, USA. He proceeded to complete a Diploma in Health Management from the University of Cape Town. Dr Zokufa was registered with the South African Pharmacy Council as a Pharmacist and as a specialist in Clinical Pharmacokinetics.