Early in the COVID-19 pandemic WHO’s @DrTedros highlighted the problems of access to health services by millions of people living with NCDs+ in his tweet. His tweet certainly mirrors what the SA NCDs Alliance and our allies have been saying since 2007 when the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) held its first public hearings into the right access to health services.
COVID-19 changed the parameters of vulnerability to include NCDs+, mental health, and reemphasised disability in all its shapes and forms.
SAHRC report 2007
15 years ago the primary focus was understandably on access to HIV/AIDS and TB services. It was the height of the communicable disease epidemic. And amidst our homegrown “AIDS-denialism”. It was also the midpoint of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) where vast amounts of funding were channelled into communicable diseases and maternal-child services. That pattern of expenditure and funding remains in place today.
The report’s executive summary is salutary: it fits today’s health service access issues in the COVID-19 pandemic. Just substitute NCDs+ for communicable diseases. And, we have a similar complaint today.
The report’s opening quote is ironically, but not surprisingly, from The AIDS Law Project, the early version of Section 27:
“We don’t yet have a definition of essential health services. This means we don’t have a base line for the right to health and it is impossible to cost the health service and thereby determine objectively what can be
We still don’t have the definition. But HIV unlike NCDs+ is a National Development Plan priority. As for the rest of the conclusions, they mostly are unmet PLWNCDs+ The main change to health services is that HIV/TB services dominate primary health care. We beg for evidence-based inclusion of NCDs + throughout the life-course. And, more not just a tack on to HIV, TB and STI services.
That is why we fight on. Read the SAHRC 2007 report on access to health services SAHRC 2007Health Report
What Cancer Patients Should Know
CANSA and SANCDA are hosting a webinar taking place on Tuesday 13 July at 12pm via Zoom – register via Quicket on https://qkt.io/XfaIGf to get your Zoom link.
We invite you to a webinar session about cancer patients and the COVID vaccine. Our panel of presenters include two oncology experts sharing current recommendations and information, Dr Zainab Mohamed, Head Clinical Unit, Radiation Oncology Groote Schuur Hospital / University of Cape Town and Dr Ria David, a medical oncologist and specialist physician from Oncocare.
The session is open to everyone affected by cancer, including newly diagnosed people starting their cancer treatment journey, cancer survivors and those who in remission. Cancer patients and survivors have vulnerable immune systems and need to be protected.
The webinar will be facilitated by Dr Brenda Kubheka from Health IQ Consulting. Also joining the panel is Dr Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson, Director of the South African Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance (SANCDA), a strong advocate for people living with non-communicable diseases.
Dr Brenda Kubheka is a medical doctor with special interests in patient safety, ethics and media in healthcare. She is a co-founder and MD of Health IQ Consulting. She has worked in both the private and public sectors at senior and executive levels. She is an Aspen’s African Leadership initiative fellow and a PhD candidate at Wits University. She holds various qualifications including various diplomas, MBA and cert in Media and Medicine. She has published academic papers and opinion pieces both locally and internationally.
Dr Zainab Mohamed attained her MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 1992 and her MMed in Radiation Oncology at the University of Stellenbosch in 2004. Her career as a Clinical and Radiation Oncologists commenced at Groote Schuur Hospital in 2005 and she is presently the Head of the Clinical Unit and a senior lecturer at the University of Cape Town. She runs the Lymphoma and Kaposi’s sarcoma clinics and provides radiotherapy services to Clinical Haematology. Her research interests include HIV-associated malignancies and lymphomas. She has a special interest in Palliative care and is co-facilitator of an on-line palliative care course offered to Oncologists by the University of Cape Town. She is a member of the University of Cape Town Human Research Ethics Committee and Vice President (South Africa) for AORTIC.
Dr Ria David was born and grew up in Durban. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Natal, Medical School in 2002 and thereafter served her internship in Cape Town and community service in deep rural KwaZulu Natal. She discovered a love for internal medicine at McCord Hospital where she served 2 years as a medical officer. This led to a 7-year postgraduate journey at the University of Witwatersrand where she completed her specialisation in internal medicine, and then a super specialist qualification in medical oncology before returning to her home town. Dr David now practises oncology at Oncocare in the Durban and Umhlanga branches of the practice. She has special interests in breast-, colorectal and haematological malignancies. She also serves on the executive committees of the Durban Breast Cancer Forum and the Cardio-Oncology Society of Southern Africa.
Dr Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson (PhD, RN, RM) is the CEO of the South African Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (SANCDA), in which capacity she has served since its formation in 2013. Vicki was born with an NCD, psoriasis, and now lives with around 20 NCDs conditions. She is the survivor of multiple near-death NCDs experiences, which shaped her NCDs and health activism. Today she advocates for NCDs equity and policy coherence in South Africa. Over 50 years of work experience in the health sector allow a 360o perspective of stakeholders and spaces that stretch Soweto in the 1970’s and rural apartheid “homelands” to continental and global forays. Today she enjoys the reach and safety that the internet provides.
Register via Quicket on https://qkt.io/XfaIGf to get your Zoom link.
On 20 July 2021, the SA NCDs Alliance is co-hosting and coordinating a people’s consultation on universal health coverage (UHC). This is especially for you if you use government health services.
The South African version of UHC is called “national health insurance” or NHI. But are we talking about the same thing? There are some big differences. What do you think?
The event is a virtual focus group lasting 2 hours with 30 participants. You can only participate if you apply. We want to hear your voice especially if you are part of a vulnerable or hard-to-reach group that uses public or government health services. So you need to complete that application form and showing us why your participation is important.
Apply to join the conversation here
- People who are left behind or have trouble having their health needs met before or during COVID-19?
- Civil society participants, breakout group facilitators or note-takers.
We want to make sure that we hear from you, the people, and especially if you are in that “seldom heard” and vulnerable group. We can help a few selected participants with data package to participate on the day.
The event forms part of the United Nations Civil Society Engagement Mechanism (CSEM) for UHC2030 efforts to gather South African insights on the state of UHC. Your views will be inputted into the UN State of the UHC Commitment Report for publication at the end of 2021 (around UHC Day 12 Dec). Here is the 2020 State of the UHC Commitment Report.
An excellent and relevant reference just published by WHO is Voice, agency, empowerment: Handbook on social participation for UHC 2021
The South African Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (SANCDA) will host the 3rd Happy Hour Xchange on Thursday, 22 April 2021 at 18:00 focussing on ‘Disability, Down Syndrome and COVID-19.
Join Dr Vicki for her Xchange with Ancella Ramjas (National Executive Director: Down Syndrome SA) for part 1: Downright disastrous COVID-19 response for persons with Down Syndrome? And part 2: Missing the point of vaccinations.
Registration for the NCD Happy Hour Xchange is essential. Limited space is available.
Register for the NCD Happy Hour Xchange
People living with NCDs are at a higher risk of becoming severely ill if they contract COVID-19. NCDs are underlying health conditions that require you to take special care: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, obesity, dementia, kidney disease and cancer.
NCDs and other chronic conditions can make the immune system slow down and making it easier to get an infection like COVID-19. So, we want to keep you healthy.
The SANCDA, founded in 2013, brings together trusted South African organisations and together we have 200 years of service for people living with NCDs. We work with civil society organisations and individuals to focus on NCDs policy and implementation in South Africa. We want public policy that is transparent and responsive to all of our health needs and the conditions we face. Our partners support the upfront disclosure and transparency of funding arrangements for stakeholders and partners. Our funding is received from philanthropic groups and supported by the global NCD Alliance.
Contact Dr Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson, Director of SANCDA on 083 383 8159 or email: [email protected] for more information or visit https://www.sancda.org.za/
NCDs Happy Hour Xchange is funded by a NCD Alliance’s 2020 Act on NCDs Campaign Fuel Award, part of NCD Alliance’s partnership with Access Accelerated.