Having been liberated from apartheid, the population of South Africa is now going to overcome other obstacles. The success of the country’s further development requires strong leadership from the government and commitment from people (Skolnik, 2012). The impact
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The impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic is hard to overestimate. The disease brought about an immense increase in mortality and morbidity rates, which now undermines the whole system of health care (Harrison, 2009).
The aim of the portfolio at hand is to briefly assess the current state of the country’s health care comparing its key features to the health care system of a different country of the same region. The paper will touch upon the future direction of the development, possible governmental and private sector interventions, and the ways technology can change the trajectory of the development.
Comparison of South Africa to Namibia
The situation in the neighborhood allows concluding that all the countries of the region suffer from the health care problems resulting from the same environmental conditions. Namibia, for instance, lacks arterial rivers, thus having limited freshwater supplies (Harrison, 2009). It requires extensive conservation and strict governmental control as the use of water outpaces the provision.
However, other conditions being equal, South Africa suffers extremely from soil erosion, air and water pollution (Harrison, 2009). Namibia, in its turn, is the first country that managed to include environmental legislation into the Constitution. Now, almost a quarter of the land is under official protection (Coovadia, Jewkes, Barron, Sanders, & McIntyre, 2009).
On the whole, the consequences for the health condition of the population of South Africa are the following:
- the decreased life expectancy: in Namibia, people live about three years longer than in South Africa (Harrison, 2009);
- the increased AIDS /HIV infection rate: in Namibia. the number of the contagious population is almost 3.5% lower (Harrison, 2009);
- the decreased birth rate: in Namibia, there are about three babies more per 1000 people;
- however, the number of deaths in infancy in practically the same in both countries (Harrison, 2009).
Future challenges and directions
Although with such a considerable number of challenges it is rather difficult to set priorities for further action, it is essential to prevent and treat HIV and tuberculosis. Besides, there is a challenge of a mother-to-child transmission of terminal diseases, the scale of which is now enormous across the country. Chronic diseases and injury prevention also rank among the issues of paramount importance (Chib, 2013).
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Even though these are the main sore points of South Africa, there is still an urgent problem of alcohol and drug abuse, as well as behaviors associated with these conditions. All the above-mentioned points lead to the conclusion that the health care service needs to shift its focus from satisfying the individual needs of each citizen to solving comprehensive problems (Chib, 2013). This policy would lead to the successful maintenance of community health. The immediate future strategies that would help approach the existing problems are:
- introduction of innovations into the existing system and future research (Chopra, Lawn, Sanders, Barron, Karim, Bradshaw, & Coovadia, 2009);
- monitoring of children and women’s deaths (especially those occurring during the child-birth) (Chopra et al., 2009);
- encouragement of mother support groups (Chopra et al., 2009);
- starvation and malnutrition management (Chopra et al., 2009);
- enhanced activity of community workers (Chopra et al., 2009);
- introduction of various medical tests (Chopra et al., 2009);
- implementation of e-medicine opportunities (Chopra et al., 2009);
- due attention to mental health problems (Chopra et al., 2009);
- building more hospitals and clinics (Chopra et al., 2009);
- application of simplified protocols (Chopra et al., 2009);
- governmental support for both state and private clinics (Chopra et al., 2009);
- education-based program of improving environmental awareness (Chopra et al., 2009).
Technology that can contribute to improvements
Information and Communication Technology (ICT), which includes e-medicine, e-education, and telehealth, is now a vehicle to bridge a gap between the health care systems of civilized and developing countries (Harrison, 2009).
ICT can enhance the functioning of the system by:
- improving access to basic health care service (Harrison, 2009);
- increasing connectivity and knowledge exchange (Harrison, 2009);
- providing access to digital improvement (Harrison, 2009);
- enabling online interaction with other specialists, who are separated geographically (especially, when it concerns the diagnosis of some complicated diseases) (Harrison, 2009).
Thus, the transition to ICT for South Africa implies not only a certain level of technical development but also another state of mind, an orientation to global thinking, and a commitment to the common goal.
Private and public organizations that can make a contribution
The most innovative field of ICT implementation would be the access of the whole population to the improved health service. However, this is not an easy task. First, it needs enormous funding into the health care sector. Second, health care providers will always have to deal with patients’ self-diagnosing and harmful self-treatment. However, the government does its best by informing young people about HIV/AIDS, reproductive health, health care opportunities, and other crucial issues (Chib, 2013).
Besides, a lot of ICT initiatives are currently provided by donors. In the future, many agencies will be ready to assist the government in the introduction of modern technologies as it is already evident that the revenue will be enormous (Chib, 2013). Thus, the private and the public sector acting in cooperation can raise the health care system to an unprecedented level (Chib, 2013).
Even though ICT may play a major role in the further development of South Africa, all the particularities of the health care system development make it impossible without the assistance of both the public and the private sector. The health system in this country is complex, which means that no matter that it is provided by the government, the cost of services still depends on the social rules, pressures, and agreements that the government cannot control. It means that only the united effort can be successful on the path to improvement.
Chib, A. (2013). The promise and peril of mHealth in developing countries.Mobile Media & Communication, 1(1), 69-75.
Chopra, M., Lawn, J. E., Sanders, D., Barron, P., Karim, S. S. A., Bradshaw, D., & Coovadia, H. (2009). Achieving the health Millennium Development Goals for South Africa: Challenges and Priorities. The Lancet, 374(9694), 1023-1031.
Coovadia, H., Jewkes, R., Barron, P., Sanders, D., & McIntyre, D. (2009). The health and health system of South Africa: historical roots of current public health challenges. The Lancet, 374(9692), 817-834.
Harrison, D. (2009). An overview of health and health care in South Africa 1994–2010: Priorities, progress and prospects for new gains. Washington, DC: Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation.
Skolnik, R. (2012). Global Health 101 (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.