The People’s Health Movement of South Africa marches today in solidarity with TAC for the issues raised in the memorandum. We believe that the achievements made in the treatment of HIV/AIDS and TB stand to be eroded by ongoing problems in our public facilities such as drug stock outs, corruption, poor infrastructure and lack of staffing.
For PHMSA this highlights the fact that the approach to changing the health system and to properly treating the HIV pandemic must be a comprehensive approach to changing the entire health system. A health system that is fragmented at multiple levels, by diseases, by regions and by funding systems cannot deliver a safe and sustainable answer to the huge disease burden faced by our people
But we also must emphasise that a good health system is only one component of what is needed to build a healthy nation. Long before disease manifests in our bodies, the way that we live either contributes to our health our illness. The quality of our housing, water supply, sanitation, food and education are powerful predictors of the quality of our health. In South Africa we know that millions live in informal settlements, have inadequate or no access to running water and have no food security. We also know that we have a heavy burden of disease caused by the work that is done in mines, farms and factories. We can only begin to build a healthy nation when we address these social and economic causes of ill health.
We commend TAC for highlighting again the terrible inadequacies within our health system, particularly the public health system which the majority of South Africans rely upon. Burdened by high levels of infectious diseases, such as TB and pneumonia, childhood illnesses such as malnutrition and diarrhoea, trauma and violence and chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, the poor of South Africa have to rely on a health system which is under resourced, understaffed and poorly managed.
Along with you, we in PHMSA have welcomed the government proposal to change the health system under the banner of NHI. But we are concerned that the details of the NHI plan are not open to the public. We are also concerned that the districts where the Re Engineering of PHC is being piloted have not made any real progress in improving health outcomes or health services. Any change to our health system has to fundamentally change the parasitic relationship between the private and public health system in South Africa; it has to improve the funding and infrastructure of the public sector; it must be based on the principles of primary health care and has to be planned, owned and driven by the people for it to be a success. With this in mind, we call for an NHI that is a People’s NHI and encompasses these principles.
As PHMSA we remain inspired by the tremendous example of community mobilisation and conscious struggle that TAC represents. We partner with you in demanding improvements in medicines and systems for the management of HIV and TB and we bring to this struggle our vision of radical change to the social injustices that drive illness and disease and our undying commitment to comprehensive, progressive change to the entire health system.
ISSUED BY THE PEOPLES’ HEALTH MOVEMENT SOUTH AFRICA
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