We, the undersigned, note with significant concern the political developments in South Africa in the last week, where we have witnessed changes which we believe could potentially impact negatively over time on the communities we serve.
We, the undersigned leaders of the health development sector, have dedicated our professional lives to working with the South African Government to improve health services, particularly attending to the health of poor and marginalized communities. South Africa is in the grip of multiple epidemics which affect the poor disproportionately, such as HIV, TB and a raft of non-communicable diseases. These communities are often remote, and have inadequate access to quality healthcare as a result of poor infrastructure, human capacity, systems and processes.
We note with significant concern the political developments in South Africa in the last week, where we have witnessed changes which we believe could potentially impact negatively over time on the communities we serve. We wish to register our concerns at the political uncertainty within South Africa precipitated by changes in key ministerial positions in government, which could result in a direct and longer-term effect on the financial stability of the country.
While this may seem abstract relative to the communities we serve, these developments are highly likely to have a direct influence on the country’s sovereign debt ratings, and a surge in the cost of borrowing. This in turn, will mean that the communities we serve will have less investment in health infrastructure, staffing and systems. We anticipate that a deteriorating exchange rate will result in rising costs of pharmaceutical and laboratory products, and the lack of these could adversely affect us reaching our UN targets for 2020, as we may not have the budget to treat all those who need medication for their HIV, TB and other serious health issues.
Greater political instability could lead to a further flight of critical health skills from our country. The health of poor communities will be most affected and the adverse impact will almost certainly compromise the country’s path to improving health and saving lives.
Within the context of the current challenges, we call on all in government to keep their focus on the well-being and health of the communities within South Africa. We call for accountable governance and leadership with integrity to navigate this turbulent period in a way that does not compromise the joint work of government, health development organisations and all freedom-loving South Africans to improve the health of and prevent deaths of the poor and disadvantaged in our country. DM
Signed (in our personal capacities), in alphabetical order of surnames:
Photo: A sign made from children’s hand prints in the impoverished community of Masiphumelele in Cape Town, South Africa, 01 December 2013. EPA/NIC BOTHMA