Health-e (Cape Town)

South Africa: Zuma Speaks On Health

President Zuma discussed a range of health issues in his State of the Nation Address, specifically National Health Insurance, TB and lifestyle diseases. Read the part of his speech dealing with health here.

Honourable Members,

Five years ago, South Africa had such a low life expectancy that experts suggested that by 2015, our life expectancy would have been exactly where it was in 1955.

It was with good reason that we were delighted when late last year, studies from the Medical Research Council, the Lancet medical journal and others began reporting a dramatic increase in life expectancy from an average baseline of 56 years in 2009 to 60 years in 2011. These reports also noted significant decreases in infant and under five mortality.

Increased life expectancy is a key to the country's development. People are returning to work, they are being productive, economically and socially. The family structure is increasingly stable and parents live longer and are able to take care of their children.

We should not become complacent, in light of these achievements. Given the high co-infection rate between HIV and TB, we have integrated these services.

Work is also continuing on the research side. South Africa has discovered a candidate drug to treat Malaria. In addition, researchers at the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa consortium, also discovered broad neutralising antibodies against HIV.

Deputy President Motlanthe has appointed new members of the South African National Aids Council Trust. We congratulate the team, which is led by retired Judge Zac Yacoob, as chairperson.

Diseases of lifestyle are on an alarming increase. We have to combat and lower the levels of smoking, harmful effects of alcohol, poor diets and obesity.

Honourable members,

In 2014 we will create the National Health Insurance Fund. The Department of Health will accelerate and intensify progress in the pilot districts.

In that regard, as from April this year, the first group of approximately 600 private medical practitioners will be contracted to provide medical services at 533 clinics within villages and townships in 10 of the pilot districts.

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