South Africa

National HIV testing policies aim to increase the proportion of people living with HIV who know their status. National HIV testing policies were reviewed for each country from 2013 to 2018, and compared with WHO guidance. Three rounds of health facility surveys were conducted to assess facility level policy implementation in Karonga (Malawi), uMkhanyakude (South Africa), and Ifakara (Tanzania). A policy "implementation" score was developed and applied to each facility by site for each round. Most HIV testing policies were explicit and aligned with WHO recommendations. Policies about service coverage, access, and quality of care were implemented in >80% of facilities per site and per round. However, linkage to care and the provision of outreach HIV testing for key populations were poorly implemented. The proportion of facilities reporting HIV test kit stock-outs in the past year reduced over the study period in all sites, but still occurred in ≥17% of facilities per site by 2017. The implementation score improved over time in Karonga and Ifakara and declined slightly in uMkhanyakude. Efforts are needed to address HIV test kit stock-outs and to improve linkage to care among people testing positive in order to reach the 90-90-90 targets.

We reviewed literature on HIV and tuberculosis in sub-Saharan African prisons published between 2011 and 2015, and identified data from only 24 of the 49 countries in the region. Where data were available, they were frequently of poor quality and rarely nationally representative. Prevalence of HIV infection ranged from 2·3% to 34·9%, and of tuberculosis from 0·4 to 16·3%; detainees nearly always had a higher prevalence of both diseases than did the non-incarcerated population in the same country.We identified barriers to prevention, treatment, and care services in published work and through five case studies of prison health policies and services in Zambia, South Africa, Malawi, Nigeria, and Benin. These barriers included severe financial and human-resource limitations and fragmented referral systems that prevent continuity of care when detainees cycle into and out of prison, or move between prisons. These challenges are set against the backdrop of weak health and criminal-justice systems, high rates of pre-trial detention, and overcrowding. A few examples of promising practices exist, including routine voluntary testing for HIV and screening for tuberculosis upon entry to South African and the largest Zambian prisons, reforms to pre-trial detention in South Africa, integration of mental health services into a health package in selected Malawian prisons, and task sharing to include detainees in care provision through peer-educator programmes in Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and South Africa. However, substantial additional investments are required throughout sub-Saharan Africa to develop country-level policy guidance, build human-resource capacity, and strengthen prison health systems to ensure universal access to HIV and tuberculosis prevention, treatment, and care of a standard that meets international goals and human rights obligations.

BRICS’ leaders have an opportunity to pool capacity, technical expertise and financial resources to accelerate progress towards the 2020 goals for neglected tropical disease control and elimination. First, they can lead by example. Brazil, China, India and South Africa can help close the treatment gap by prioritizing neglected tropical diseases, scaling up national programmes and achieving domestic goals for control and elimination of the diseases relevant to their settings. Second, by sharing expertise each BRICS country can help other countries tackle neglected tropical diseases, through new partnerships. Third, BRICS can shape the policy agenda, increasing political commitment, mobilizing resources and implementing policies that support neglected tropical disease control and elimination on the international level.

As part of the special feature on leadership and human resources, Management Sciences for Health profiles three leaders who have made a significance difference in the HR situation in their countries.

HIV/AIDS is a critical concern in South Africa, where extreme poverty and gender issues are major determinants of health. A comprehensive home-based care programme is needed to lessen the burden placed on the caregivers of those suffering from HIV/AIDS. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the challenges faced by people who are living with HIV/AIDS and by their caregivers in resource-poor, remote South African villages.

In the CIPRA-SA trial (July 3, p. 33), Ian Sanne and colleagues compared the outcomes of nurse-monitored patients with those of doctor-monitored patients in an antiretroviral treatment (ART) program in South Africa and concluded that the outcomes of ART services provided by nurses were non-inferior to those provided by doctors.

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