Health Summit and other mixed messaging

This is billed as being about the Checka Impilo or National Wellness Campaign … but some how it got to be more about a failing health system. Take a look.

 Checka Impilo


Deputy President Mabuza used the Health Summit to launch Checka Impilo, a national wellness campaign that focuses on testing and treating people who have HIV, TB, sexually transmitted infections and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

The campaign will focus on the provision of comprehensive health and wellness services targeted at men, adolescent girls and young women, as well as key and vulnerable population groups.

The success of the campaign, Mabuza said, depends on coordinated collaboration among all social partners in respect to planning, implementation and monitoring.

Checka Impilo is a call to action for South Africans to move from a curative response to health to preventative approaches and the adoption of healthy lifestyles.

The campaign will focus on increased information, education and communication activities, promotion of HIV testing, widespread distribution of condoms, and provision of pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV.

“All of us must, therefore, go out in great numbers to test for HIV and screen for STIs, TB and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

“Within 24 months of this campaign, we must have found and put two million more people on ARVs. We must also have found and put at least 80 000 more people with TB on anti-TB treatment. We must also have identified thousands more with diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer, and put them on treatment,” Mabuza said.

Climate Change Bill: Comment by 8 August 2018

 Note: Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson Climate action, SDG 13, is closely linked to Health SDG 3 and NCDs 

Some SDG 13 targets: 

  • Strengthen resilience &  adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  • Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early


Environmental Affairs (EA) Minister Dr Edna Molewa has published the National Climate Change Bill in Government Gazette 41689 (Notice No. 636) for public comment.

“The purpose of the Bill is to build an effective climate change response and ensure the long-term, just transition to a climate resilient and lower carbon economy and society.

“This will be done within the context of sustainable development for South Africa, and will provide for all matters related to climate change,” the Department of  EA said in a statement.

The department said the Bill acknowledges that anthropogenic climate change represents an urgent threat to human societies and the environment and requires an effective, progressive and well-coordinated response.

“It further highlights that, amongst others, anticipated domestic climate change impacts have the potential to undermine the country’s development goals, and that responses to climate change raise unique challenges, thus requiring a legislative framework for the implementation of the country’s national climate change response,” the department said.

The National Climate Change Bill addresses issues related to institutional and coordination arrangement across the three spheres of government namely national, provincial and local. It also highlights the need for the spheres of government and entities, sectors as well business to respond to challenges of climate change.

The bill further addresses matters relating to the national adaptation to impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and removals, and policy alignment and institutional arrangements.

“Section 24 of the Constitution of South Africa states that everyone has a right to an environment that is not harmful to their health and well-being, and that all have the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generation, while allowing justifiable environmentally sustainable economic and social development,” the department said.

A Series of Provincial Stakeholder Engagement Workshops, where all stakeholders and interested parties will be able to comment on the National Climate Change Bill, will be hosted by the department countrywide.

The objects of the proposed Act are to:

  • Provide for the coordinated and integrated response to climate change and its impacts by all spheres of government in accordance with the principles of cooperative governance;
  • Provide for the effective management of inevitable climate change impacts through enhancing adaptive capacity, strengthening resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, with a view to building social, economic, and environmental resilience and an adequate national adaptation response in the context of the global climate change response;
    and to
  • Make a fair contribution to the global effort to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that avoids dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system within a timeframe and in a manner that enables economic, employment, social and environmental development to proceed in a sustainable manner.

Members of the public are invited to submit to the Minister, by 8 August 2018, written inputs or comments to the following addresses:

By emailBy post:  The Director-General: Department of EA, Attention:  Ms Dineo Ngobeni,  Private Bag X447,  Pretoria  0001., By hand:  Environment House, 473 Steve Biko Street, Arcadia, Pretoria, 0002

Any inquiries in connection with the National Climate Change Bill, 2018, can be directed to Mr Tlou Ramaru at +27-12 399 9252  or Ms Deborah Ramalope at +27 12 399 9160.

See a copy of  socio-economic impact assessment report and memorandum of objects

To access the National Climate Change Bill 


1st-ever WHO list of essential diagnostic tests

Summary: 1st WHO essential diagnostic list focusing on mainly communicable diseases with a recommendation to include more NCDs in a future edition. PHC and facility level essential package.   Vicki Pinkney-Atkinson

Improving NCDs diagnosis & treatment outcomes

Today, many people are unable to get tested for diseases because they cannot access diagnostic services. Many are incorrectly diagnosed. As a result, they do not receive the treatment they need and, in some cases, may actually receive the wrong treatment.

For example, an estimated 46% of adults with Type 2 diabetes worldwide are undiagnosed, risking serious health complications and higher health costs. Late diagnosis of infectious diseases such as HIV and TB increases the risk of spread and makes them more difficult to treat.

Essential Diagnostics  List (EDL)

To address this gap, WHO today published its first Essential Diagnostics List (EDL), a catalogue of the tests needed to diagnose the most common conditions as well as a number of global priority diseases.

“An accurate diagnosis is the first step to getting effective treatment ….No one should suffer or die because of a lack of diagnostic services, or because the right tests were not available.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

The list concentrates on in vitro tests – i.e. tests of human specimens like blood and urine. It contains 113 products: 58 tests are listed for detection and diagnosis of a wide range of common conditions, providing an essential package that can form the basis for screening and management of patients. The remaining 55 tests are designed for the detection, diagnosis and monitoring of “priority” diseases such as HIV, TB, malaria, hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus and syphilis.

Some of the tests are particularly suitable for PHC facilities, where laboratory services are often poorly resourced and sometimes non-existent; for example, tests that can rapidly diagnose a child for acute malaria or glucometers to test diabetes. These tests do not require electricity or trained personnel. Other tests are more sophisticated and therefore intended for larger medical facilities.

“Our aim is to provide a tool that can be useful to all countries, to test and treat better, but also to use health funds more efficiently by concentrating on the truly essential tests,” says Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant Director-General for Access to Medicines, Vaccines and Pharmaceuticals. “Our other goal is to signal to countries and developers that the tests in the list must be of good quality, safe and affordable.”

For each category of test, the EDL specifies the type of test and intended use, format, and if appropriate for primary health care or for health facilities with laboratories. The list also provides links to WHO Guidelines or publications and, when available, to prequalified products.

Similar to the WHO Essential Medicines List, which has been in use for four decades, the EDL is intended to serve as a reference for countries to update or develop their own list of essential diagnostics. In order to truly benefit patients, national governments will need to ensure appropriate and quality-assured supplies, training of healthcare workers and safe use. To that end, WHO will provide support to countries as they adapt the list to the local context.

The EDL was developed following an extensive consultation within WHO and externally. The draft list was then considered for review by WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on In-Vitro Diagnostics – a group of 19 experts with global representation. For more information see WHO website.

WHO will update the Essential Diagnostics List on a regular basis. In the coming months, WHO will issue a call for applications to add categories to the next edition. The list will expand significantly over the next few years, as it incorporates other important areas including antimicrobial resistance, emerging pathogens, neglected tropical diseases and additional NCDs.

VAT panel to report in June on zero-rated food

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene says the panel that has been established to review a list off zero-rated food products will submit its report next month. 

The Minister said this when he tabled the Treasury’s Budget Vote at the National Assembly on 22 May 2018.

As part of measures to address a budget shortfall, the National Treasury announced an increase in value-added tax (VAT) from 14% to 15% in February, which took effect in May.

We have established an independent panel of experts to review the list of 19 zero-rated food products and consider how best for government to mitigate the impact of the VAT increase on poor and indigent households.

I have also requested the Panel to consider whether key poverty-alleviating expenditure programmes like the School Nutrition Programme might be better at supporting the vulnerable.

The Panel is expected to submit an initial set of proposals to me by the end of June this year.

Nene said the National Treasury will continue to engage all relevant stakeholders to ensure that the VAT increase will not have an adverse impact on poor and indigent households.

The Minister said, meanwhile, that with tax revenue collections outlook remaining the same, any tax revenue collection agency must, like Caesar’s wife, be above suspicion.

The next major step therefore towards strengthening public finances is to restore public confidence in the SA Revenue Service.

In this regard, President [Cyril] Ramaphosa is finalising the appointment of the Commission of Inquiry into SARS.

Air pollution another silent killer, it’s about more than the lungs – WHO

9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe polluted air

Air pollution levels remain dangerously high in many parts of the world. New data from the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. Updated estimations reveal the alarming death toll of 7 million people every year caused by ambient (outdoor) and household air pollution. More than 90% of air pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries, mainly in Asia and Africa, followed by low- and middle-income countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region, Europe and the Ameri­cas.

“Air pollution threatens us all, but the poorest and most marginalized people bear the brunt of the burden,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO. “It is unac­ceptable that over 3 billion people – most of them women and children – are still breathing deadly smoke every day from using polluting stoves and fuels in their homes. If we don’t take urgent action on air pollution, we will never come close to achieving sustainable development.”

Click here for the press release; the city database, interactive map, and all the updated health data; frequently asked questions and infographics.

Maximizing health benefits from the sustainable energy transition

Energy is crucial for achieving almost all of the sustainable development goals (SDGs), from eradication of poverty through advancements in health, education, water supply and industriali­zation to combating air pollution and climate change.

New Tracking SDG7: The Energy Progress Report includes updated data from WHO on household air pollution showing that 3 billion people – or more than 40% of the world’s popula­tion – still do not have access to clean cooking fuels and technologies. Household air pollution from burning solid fuels and using kerosene for cooking alone is responsible for some 4 mil­lion deaths a year, with women and children being at greatest risk. The report provides a com­prehensive summary of the world’s progress towards the global energy targets on access to electricity, clean cooking fuels, renewable energy and energy efficiency. The report was launched at the Sustainable Energy for All forum held on 2 May 2018 in Lisbon, Portugal. For the press release click here. For further information, on WHO work on household air pollution click here.

Policy briefs in support of the first SDG7 review at the UN High-Level Political Forum 2018 in­cludes a brief on Achieving universal access to clean and modern cooking fuels, technologies and services (Brief #2), as well as Health and energy linkages – Maximizing health benefits from the sustainable energy transition (Brief #10). The briefs were developed by WHO in collab­oration with Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, United Na­tions Environment, United Nations Children’s Fund and United for Energy Efficiency. The publi­cation was launched at the UN High-Level Political Forum on 18 April 2018 in New York, the United States of America. For the press release click here.


Experts develop a new roadmap for strengthening workers’ health

With an aim to develop strategic directions for WHO’s future action on health and work, forty experts came together at WHO in Geneva to produce a preliminary roadmap for action by the health sector for implementing the SDGs relevant to workers health. The experts identified cost-effective policy options at national and international levels to achieve SDG targets and pro­posed a set of high priority actions for improving workers’ health and the working environment in the context of global action on health, environment and climate change.

The experts represented ministries of health, international organizations including the Interna­tional Labour Organization, and the network of WHO Collaborating Centres for Occupational Health.

The meeting took place from 9–11 April 2018 at WHO in Geneva. For more information, click here.

Health in All Policies workshop – the case of air pollution, urban health and sustainability

For the first time, a Health in All Policies (HiAP) workshop will address and empower the pub­lic health workforce (public health educators and public and environmental health profession­als) by providing them with skills to advance multisectoral action in health and sustainable development with a focus on air pollution and urban health. Participants of the workshop will identify the skills needed in practice, and examine useful approaches for education to move policy in support of both health and the environment. Collaborative action and HiAP will sup­port reaching the SDGs.

The workshop is being organized in collaboration with the Association of Schools and Pro­grams of Public Health (ASPPH) and the National Environmental Health Association and will take place from 18 to 20 June 2018 in Washington (DC), the United States. For more infor­mation, click here. For more on WHO’s work on HiAP click here.

Chemical releases caused by natural hazards

Natural hazards such as earthquakes, floods and cyclones can cause the release of chemicals from fixed chemical installations, pipelines, transport systems, hospitals and homes. These releases are known as Natech events and they can severely hamper response activities. Risk managers have only recently started studying the causes and consequences of Natech events. It is anticipated that these events triggered especially by floods and cyclones will become more frequent as a consequence of climate change. A new publication, Chemical releases caused by natural hazard events and disasters – information for public health authorities aim to inform the health sector about this issue and provides brief guidance on the role of the health sector in prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. This publication is complemented by three short documents on earthquakes, floods and cyclones.

For more on WHO’s work on chemical safety click here.


#BreatheLife challenge – A marathon for clean air

The BreatheLife challenge is the first in series of campaigns to mobilize citizens to act in their own interests, for better air quality and health. We want to rally people to walk, bike and use public transport to clean the air and to take a pledge to reduce air pollution emissions by partici­pating in ’a marathon a month – the equivalent of 42 kilometres or 26 miles of car use.

This May, WHO released new data on the state of air pollution in the world. The latest air pollu­tion levels and trends from 4,000 cities will be made public. Committing to a marathon for clean air will offer people a way to take action together.

We invite your organization to promote the challenge on different platforms. Use this guide to get

tips, messages and ideas on what your organization can do. For more information, visit