Gauteng needs to reverse Covid-19 lockdown backlogs

10 Sep 2020 in Press Statements

The Gauteng Health Department needs to reverse disturbing backlogs arising from the Covid-19 lockdown as revealed in the recently released First Quarterly Report which covers the April to June period.

According to the report, the department only spent R12.262 billion (22%) of the total R55.727 billion annual budget instead of R14.579 billion (25%), which is shortfall of R2.3 billion.

The most worrying under-achievements are the following:

– 1 055 052 HIV/Aids patients are on anti-retroviral treatment as opposed to the 1 225 752 target.

– only 728 532 were tested for HIV/AIDS against the set target of 875 000.

– only 76.5% of children under one years old were immunized, a 10.6% decrease from the previous quarter and well below the 98% target.

– antenatal visits for pregnant women were 65.8% instead of the 70% target.

A large number TB patients have been lost for follow-up but the department blames non-reporting on a system upgrade error, and is disturbingly not able to provide figures on the TB treatment success rate either.

There has been a sharp increase in the child under 5 years diarrhoea case fatality rate which was 7.9% against the 2% national norm.

Also cause for concern is the 8.6% case fatality rate for severe acute malnutrition, an increase of 2.5% from the previous quarter and higher than the 7.2% national norm.

No figures are given on the surgery backlogs for elective procedures, but I estimate it is likely to be a lot more than 10 000 as backlogs were already high previously.

Extra efforts are needed to cut the diagnosis and treatment backlogs caused by the lockdown and the diversion of resources to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

My fear is that persistent poor management and corruption cripples the ability of our public health system to provide quality treatment in the face of multiple health challenges.