An increase in lifestyle diseases, such as cancers and cardiovascular diseases, continues to place an enormous burden on the South African healthcare system.
These negative consequences highlight the need for wise investments to increase the resilience of health systems and safeguard population health at the root.
DKMS Africa, a non-profit organisation, applauds the commitment of R809.4-billion over the medium-term expenditure framework to enhance the provision of equitable access to healthcare services.
According to Palesa Mokomele, Head of Community Engagement and Communications at DKMS Africa, the health system in South Africa is an area where inequality is most obvious.
Just 27% of the population can afford the cost of private care, leaving about 71% of the population dependent on the government.
She notes that while some hospital health treatments may be provided at no cost to patients who earn social pensions and disability grants and that are technically out of work, the majority of state patients are partially subsidised, depending on their income.
“In-patient chemotherapy treatment starts at around R3,000 per day and radiation reaches up to R27,000 per session – part of which may come from the patient.
One of the pillars of an efficient health system is preventive care. The goal of interventions in general public health is to improve health status and maintain a low risk of developing diseases, disorders, or conditions, regardless of whether they are directed at individuals or groups.
Mokomele adds, “The cost is even higher for those diagnosed with blood cancers – whose best chance for a cure is a blood stem cell donation from a matching donor – as transplants cost between R1 million and R1.5 million. Again, this is covered by the state, and in some instances, patients may need to contribute. The state currently also does not cover the donor-related costs for stem cell transplants from an unrelated donor, which ranges from R120 000 – R1 million.”
Funds allocated for this purpose aim to expand access to healthcare and treatment for blood cancer patients as a way to enhance healthcare provision and equity.
The 2023 Budget also detailed how the Treasury will concentrate on fixing the accumulated backlog in core medical services, such as surgery and oncology, which is a result of the pandemic's effect on regular medical services.
Citing data from the Lancet that shows Sub-Saharan Africa is dealing with an underappreciated burden of cancer and significant failures in its oncology care systems, Mokomele emphasises that this focus is a step in the right direction to improve the lives of those living with cancer and in need of treatment.