South Africa's Health Care System Will Become Overburdened by HIV/AIDS Patients, Researchers Say
August 11, 2005
HIV/AIDS over the next few years will drive up the cost of health services in South Africa, and by 2007 the country's public health sector will become strained as large numbers of HIV-positive people develop AIDS-related illnesses, according to researchers at the Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, IRIN/AllAfrica.com reports. Although the exact impact of the epidemic on South Africa's health infrastructure is unknown, HIV/AIDS patients could soon account for 60% to 70% of hospital expenditures, according to HEARD researcher Nina Veenstra. She added that while the demand for care will increase, the country's supply of health care workers will decrease. Health workers remaining in the country therefore will experience increased workloads, leading to burnout, higher absenteeism and low staff morale. In addition, the strain that the epidemic will place on the health care system will result in decreased quality of care and available services. The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa has called on South Africa's Department of Health to train more nurses, saying health facilities should offer better salaries, working conditions and material resources to retain staff. The government also should implement an efficient community-based care system to free up hospital beds, according to HSRC senior researcher Elsje Hall (IRIN/AllAfrica.com, 8/9).
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