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- A Stuijt
- Retired South African medical journalist, ex-Sunday Times of Johannesburg.
Dec 14, 2008 - PRETORIA. The overall health of the South African population has deteriorated very rapidly since 1994, when the black-majority government was voted in and the apartheid era - seperate racial development -- officially ended.
This week, the SA Human Rights Commission's health review for 2008 revealed that the South African health-care sector has deteriorated so rapidly over the past 15 years, that South Africa now has become one of the few countries in the world where the death rates for children under five years are still growing each year in spite of all the worldwide scientific advances in this field.
And one of the most worrying aspects of this trend is the fact that the country has so few health workers left in the public sector, the SAHRC noted. In 1994, it had 2,1 million registered- and staff nurses. Over the next decade, 700,000 nurses, a full one-third, are set to retire. And they are not being replaced with enough new recruits: the country now has 116 registered nurses and 83 student-nurses for every 100,000 people - and an increasingly sick population to care for.
The country's public health sector, serving an indigenous population of 48 million -- of whom 6 million are infected with the deadly human-immune deficiency virus -- now only has 26 doctors for every 100,000 people and 34,9% of all the doctors' posts are vacant. Officially, the first identified AIDS-patient in South Africa, a white SA Airways flight attendant, died in 1983 - I still wrote the article for the Sunday Times of Johannesburg. In 1980, the SA government had set up an AIDS Advisory Group. Initially HIV infections occurring amongst gay white men, but by 1985 it had spread to the heterosexual black population. The first national antenatal survey to test for HIV found that 0.8% of pregnant women were HIV-positive. Some 74,000 to 120,000 people in South Africa were infected with HIV in 1990. In 1995, this had risen to 850,000 people.
However due to ex-president Thabo Mbeki's negative approach towards all Western medical science (see the revealing video interview below) the largest number of deaths from AIDS-TB in South Africa only started occurring after 1994. In 2002, the High Court ordered the Mbeki-government to make the drug nevirapine available to pregnant women to help prevent mother to child transmission of HIV. International drug companies offered five-year-supplies for free but he resisted and told fellow-South Africans that the drug was 'poisonous'. Since then, four-million people, 98.4% of whom were black, have already died of AIDS-TB related infections up to the year 2006. To date, less than 1,-million of the 6-million people who need antiretroviral treatment, are actually getting it. What they actually do with it is equally shocking. Read here:
See Thabo Mbeki's officially-stated policy towards AIDS and XDR-TB:
links: youtube.com/watch?v=nY_Pu2gvI-4ospital and youtube.com/watch?v=Zz5lI3Hc5Xc
At the giant teaching Baragwanath in Soweto alone -- which treats an annual 137,000 bed-patients and births 35,000 babies a year (45% of whom, sadly, now die within a year) -- a whopping 935 of the 5,759 budgeted medical posts are now vacant.
The total number of vacant nursing posts in the public sector now stands at 40,3% - last year 31,5% of these posts were still vacant, so either these 'missing' nurses have left this year past, have died, moved to the private sector or retired.
The socio-economic impact of South Africa's failing health-care system on the entirepopulation is immense: millions of increasingly ill orphaned young township dwellers are turning into a growing army of desperately angry, ruthless feral crime gangs: see US embassy warning here and the middle-class is fleeing the country in increasing numbers.
SEE LATEST NEWS REPORTS on YOUTH GANGS:
OVERBURDENED WITH TRAUMA CASES:
Just like the public health sector, the police are also overwhelmed by an unprecedented violent crime epidemic which also burden the public hospitals with huge numbers of violence-related trauma cases. together with the still rapidly-expanding TB-AIDS epidemic, the country also suffers from the steady flight of the country's brightest young people -- more than half of all the medical schools' graduates emigrate within a year.
During apartheid, things were very different indeed.
The CIA world factbook on South Africa shows in 2008 that from the 1,000 live births, 45 of the newborns die within a year of birth now; and that the life expectancy of the average South African now has dropped to 48 years and still dropping each year - down from 64 years in 1994. The average number of surviving children for each SA woman now stands at two surviving beyond the age of 1 and only one surviving beyond the age of five; in 1994, this stood at five children surviving into adulthood for each black woman, and 1.5 child for each white woman. read here
There was a very good reason for these excellent public-health statistics in 1994, which were indeed at that point, the best in Africa: In 1977, the universally-hated apartheid government launched an ambitious health-care programme -- and within a decade, had turned its public health care system into the most modern and best on the African continent - for all the population groups.
In the rest of Africa, the public health care systems greatly relied on foreign donors and missionaries instead of taxpayers -- but in South Africa by 1984, the taxpayer-funded public health care programme managed to eradicate endemic diseases which were widespread in the rest of Africa, such as bubonic plague, bilharzia, TB, leprosy, polio, smallpox, malaria and typhoid fever.
And if such outbreaks occurred such as two cholera outbreaks in the KwaZulu and Bophuthatswane homelands, the government reacted rapidly, dispensing a dedicated task force of military staff, field hospitals and portable water-purification plants to isolate and cure such outbreaks at the source. A free programme of innoculations and treatment was launched for all these preventable diseases in close cooperation with its veterinary services.
And, while black leaders from the rest of Africa where also shouting public slogans against apartheid, they also often were flown in the greatest secrecy to South Africa for treatment and surgery at her public-sector hospitals. The anti-apartheid crowd overseas was constantly screaming otherwise - and the present government still shouts these slogans to this day, but the statistics showed that free health care was available for the overwhelming majority of black citizens all across South Africa within just a few years after the 1977 public health-care act was launched.
Proof: the black population growth soared in this period because of the vastly-improved health care system. The fact that a large number of non-white doctors and nurses were also being educated to the best Western standards inside South Africa and started forming the backbone of a growing black middle-class, are now being denied by this very same government which is allowing this excellent health-care tradition to fall into wrack and ruin.
Some more old, boring statistics:
By 1986, there were a total of 122,401 taxpayer-funded public hospital beds in South Africa in 211 public hospitals countrywide. The (then-) four provinces spent R2 339-million annually on public health care for all population groups - of which less than 5% was spent on the public health care budgets for whites - the rest was allocated for treatment of patients in the health-care facilities of other races. This would be worth an annual budget of R2-billion today. This budget did not include the ongoing building programme of public-health facilities.
Patients in public hospitals paid according to their income levels
Patients paid for these public services according to their income levels: by 1994, those who earned less than R23,000 a year, paid nothing at all for any services at public hospitals, which included ground-breaking surgery such as heart-transplants and heart-bypass operations. This government's only crime was to build seperate hospitals for seperate races: however the Indians in South Africa did however not complain when the government built the first public hospital for Indians in 1982 in Laudium near Pretoria, with 98 beds and costing R12,5m - at a time when the Rand was still at an equal value to the US Dollar. Today it would be worth R120,5 million.
And Sowetans also did not complain when Africa's biggest hospital with the most modern equipment on the continent was dramatically expanded from a former British military hospital, and turned into the giant Baragwanath hospital which serves the community today. It's so big that it made the 1997 Guinness Book of records as the largest hospital in the world - if all the corridors were placed in a straight line it would be 10km long. It's built on 173 acres of ground with 429 existing buildings, and has a total floor area of 233,795 square meters.
This hospital has now been renamed after the murdered commander of the military wing of the ANC --however this still remains the biggest specialist- nursing-education and teaching hospital in Africa. When it was opened, it treated an annual 120,000 bed-patients and 150,000 outpatients each year. Its shrinking number of doctors and nurses now face a growing workload: Last year it treated 137,690 bed-patients, with some 33,450 babies born there see:
Today, Baragwanath lists its number of available beds at 2,888, with a staffing budget for 5,759 workers (588 doctors and 2,088 nurses) but advertises 935 vacant posts. see:
In 1982, the growing middle-class in Soweto also got their own private 78-bed clinic, Lesidi, three operating theatres, state-of-the-art radiology units, costing about R3,5-million.
In 1983, the government built a new health-care facility for the Mamelodi community near Pretoria, costing R2,2-million. And the Chamber of Mines, throughtout the years, also funded a chain of TB- and lung-disease hospitals countrywide for black patients, run by a private trust and co-funded by the SA government. Most of these TB hospitals were closed down and have become derelict -- at a time when South Africa's already weakened population also has also been hit by a second killer epidemic, namely XDR-TB. South Africans refer to is as "Turbo-Aids" because it kills patients within twenty days.
It wasn't a perfect system by any means, not with just a comparitively small number of taxpayers having to pay for such an infrastructure - which needed constant expanding because of their own excellent health care system together with the country's ample locally-grown food supplies, also caused a massive black population explosion.
Mankind's fear of the unknown, which in its ugliest form culminates in genocide and holocausts, has also created a wonderful new art form which I have started calling Intergalactic Art. It can't be found in any museums - and all started on July 16, 1945 when the first atomic bomb was exploded. This incredibly beautiful but terrifying event kick-started an entire new art form I call Intergalactic Art.
I now haunt the internet to find the best examples of this Intergalactic Art -- but this year's top prizes definitely go to these unknown artists, purportedly in Hamburg Germany and Paris, France:
AND THIS ONE IS MY SECOND BEST:
INTERGALATIC ART AS A ONE-CITIZEN PROTEST:
A man in Manchester UK used Intergalactic Art to protest against the all-invasive police surveillance cameras on the city streets - and really proved his point:
These artists remain largely unknown and it rages mostly underground. For want of a better name for this non-commercial art form, I called it the Intergalactic school of art. It's origin can be pinpointed to an exact date, too: August 2, 1939.
That's when German-born scientist Albert Einstein wrote from his new safe haven at Princeton University to then-president Franklin Delano Roosevelt of efforts in Na zi Germany to purify uranium-235, which could be used to build a horrible new weapon, the atomic bomb. Shortly thereafter the United States Government began the serious undertaking known as "The Manhattan Project" which exploded the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945. And just a few years later, a deeply mysterious incident occurred close to the explosion site at Rosswell, New Mexico. The mystery was caused by a bungling public-relations attempt by the military, no doubt. But it created this entire new art form practically overnight.
That's the day when the world's artistic minds started going Intergalactic. It's almost as if a button was pushed inside humanity's collective subconscious and we all started a new, never-ending global argument about the true nature of humankind which we express in Intergalactic Art. And this will only stop once we find the answer.
You won't find this argument or the artists who fuel it so creatively, in the mainstream news media except in the better science-fiction films - nor will you ever know the names of these artists trying so hard to find an explanation for Mankind's existence. Our artists' imagination envelop the entire universe, which we now can also see in increasing clarify thanks to our rapid advances in technology over the previous century -- and we started Travelling where Mankind had Never Gone before. Thousands of people are studying space-programme pictures and finding 'intelligent life' in shapes on the photographs, and this is also an art form: they create YouTube videos and describe their finds in detail.
I admit it at once -- I am an enthusiastic follower albeit not a participant, of this Intergalactic school of art. I think this is mankind's way of trying to come to grips with the idea that We may not be Alone in the Universe. But true followers of Intergalactic Art also adhere to the dictate that We should Trust No-one - especially not the Bug Eyed Monsters - BEMs, described in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (disambiguation)
These perceived Extraterrestrials , especially in the 1930s, were often depicted in pulp magazines as grotesque creatures with huge, oversized or compound eyes and a lust for women, blood and general destruction - the next generation of the Olympic gods and goddesses we humans have even named planets and entire galaxies after.
This new generation in the Intergalactic art genre has now become so creative that they are actually are beginning to scare people half to death. Yet one usually can only find them on You Tube, or on very extremist websites which suffer from a constant stream of official censorship (reinforcing their telltale credo to Trust No-one).
Both sides of the extremist movements even have a name for their tribal BEMs -- the Il lu mi na ti, which was an anti-Zi onist propaganda lie, created by the Tzarist secret police and seamlessly continued by both the Soviet KGB and Adolph Hitler's Na z is - and now also flourishing among the extremist Muslim military doctrines. This particularly horrid form of Intergalactic art is dwells in the dark, fear-filled side of the human brain, the sides which causes the Holocausts, the Genocides, mankind's expression of our fear of the unknown. This lie still permeates all these extremist mindsets to this day - and its adherents actually do believe this Tzarist hate-propaganda as if it's the new gospel to guide 21st century mankind into the terrifying new future.
I won't dwell on that horrid, dark side of Intergalactic Art because something wonderful has also happened in the meantime. YouTube suddenly started giving these artists a free, international platform which can be accessed by any human being on the planet with access to a computer.
Their creativity has gone, well, Intergalactic. Never have such imaginative forms of life been depicted as one can now see on these little YouTube video clips. New ones pop up every day, and they have hundreds of thousands of adherents - yet most of the time, we don't even know these artists' names who put up these creative clips of UFOs and Aliens.
I posted the latest example of their excellent here - but there are many more being created, all creatures who live and thrive only in the creative Universe of our Minds. I just love them. But don't look for them in any art galleries or musea, those constructs were created only to block the true creativity of Mankind.
It's great fun to watch these hugely creative clips. I highly recommend watching this art whenever the stress of daily life just gets too much to bear...