A new report released on Sunday, 12 December on Universal Health Coverage Day, by Rural Health Advocacy Project reveals that the health system disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic compromised the gains made in many programmes in this sector. It also highlighted various inequities in the current structure of the health system.
Titled Health System Strengthening Post-Covid-19, the report highlights the profound effect that the response to COVID-19 had on other essential health services, particularly those in primary healthcare. These include negative effects on HIV and TB testing, as well as tests used to help manage diabetes and cholesterol.
There were stock-outs of many vital medications due to lockdowns and childhood immunisations declined in the majority of South African provinces. The effects on both the health of the population and the health system as a result of these disruptions could be felt for years to come. The report also highlights the many innovations that came out of this health crisis that can be used to improve health system resilience going forward.
The research conducted included a literature review and data analysis. The period used for the analysis of COVID-19 data for the study is 1 March 2020 to 25 June 2022. The study focuses on three areas – diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccinations.
Each area focuses on what was required from the South African Health System in order to meet the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was an unprecedented health crisis.