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International News

South Africa: New Grant Proposed for Chronic Illness Sufferers

October 29, 2008

In signs it is finally beginning to implement the National Strategic AIDS Plan, the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) has tasked researchers with developing new policies about chronic disease grants and about male circumcision and HIV.

The government is hopeful that the new grant, which will cover a range of chronic ailments, will be a more effective support mechanism than the current disability grant. Under the present system, people with advanced HIV or other serious illnesses can claim temporary disability for up to six months. Once their health improves, however, they become ineligible. The current grant, therefore, can actually create an incentive for people to stay sick.

According to a person who attended the recent SANAC meeting, the new grant will be designed to promote health. While the system is still being devised, it might couple receiving the grant with presenting for health checks at a clinic. SANAC hopes to finalize the policy revision by year's end, after which it would be sent to the treasury department for costing and to the social development department.

Responding to several large studies showing that male circumcision reduces the likelihood of female-to-male HIV transmission by about 60 percent, SANAC's program implementation committee decided to hold a workshop to draft a policy on the procedure. "Science clearly shows tremendous benefits -- the results are quite compelling, but it is an emotionally charged issue," said a second source at the meeting.

Representatives of the Democratic Alliance also questioned why some two-dozen SANAC posts are still empty 18 months after the body was restructured following the launch of the national AIDS plan. One source expressed hope that Barbara Hogan, who recently replaced the controversial Manto Tshabalala-Msimang as health minister, will move quickly to fill the vacancies.

Back to other news for October 2008

Adapted from:
Business Day (South Africa)
10.21.2008; Tamar Kahn

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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