STIs are a major health concern in South Africa posing a hazard to millions of people who engage in unprotected sex daily. The eleventh to the fifteen February is marked annually as a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and condom week.
This week is aimed at providing information about STIs and highlight the importance of condom use to combat the spread of STIs and HIV/ AIDS.
Most South Africans remain untreated with STIs because of the fear of being stigmatised. An estimated 1 194 636 males and females were treated for a new STI episode in 2014. In addition, an estimated 338 838 males according to The Department of health.
What is an STI?
STI refers to Sexually transmitted infections that are usually transmitted by having unprotected sexual intercourse which is either vaginal, anal or oral sex in some cases, certain STIs can also be passed on through skin to skin contact and from a woman to her baby during pregnancy and childbirth.
Differences between STIs and STDs
Many people confuse STIs with STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases) while the two are often used interchangeably, there are some distinct differences between them. An STI is a sexually transmitted infection, and STD is a sexually transmitted disease, moreover, not all STIs cause diseases and there are some STD that can be curable using prescribed medication and some are not curable such as HIV, these remain in the body for a lifetime. Those STDs that remain in the body for a lifetime can be suppressed using antiretroviral pills, thus increasing a lifespan of an individual affected.
Types of STIs:
There are different types of STIs, certain others are easily treated and cured with antibiotics while others can lead to serious long-term health consequences depending on the type of STI one may have contracted. The most common STIs are:
Symptoms of STI’s
A person can have an STI/STDs without having any noticeable symptoms, however, there are common symptoms and they include:
The World Health Organisation postulates that More than 1 million sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are acquired every day worldwide and an estimated 357 million new infections each year. Although some STIs are curable through antibiotics there are also some that can lead to serious long-term health consequences depending on the type of STI. As such, it is crucially important to protect yourself and your partner against STIs.
The most reliable way to avoid contracting an STI is abstinence, however, if you do have sex using a latex condom is one of the effective ways to prevent most STIs from your partner when used properly. If you suspect that you may have an STI, talk to your partner and visit your nearest clinic.
written by Maano Leroy Nethanani
AgriAid SA and twenty-seven other NGOs funded by the National Department of Health joined forces and conducted a peaceful march on Tuesday 12th February 2019. The march took place under a cloudy and light rain weather from Marabastad and headed to the National Department of Health.
Members and representatives of all the twenty-eight NGOs were unstoppable by the unfavourable weather conditions during the march that took place under the supervision of law-enforcement officers from Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) and the South African Police Service (SAPS).
The main purpose of the peaceful march was to follow up on outstanding issues that were handed over to Dr Yogan Pillay and hence submit their second memorandum of demands. In no specific order, the outstanding issues amongst others included issuing a call for proposals for the year 2019/2020, host an NGO workshop and extending the fund cycles to at least 3-5 years.
Despite the dissatisfactions that the NGOs’ representatives were faced with, members managed to remain calm and civil causing no damage to property. Moreover, During the march officials from NDoH joined in the march and stated that they were also fighting with the same department over allegations of the building not complying with the safety regulations
Speaking during the march, Monene CEO of AgriAid SA said, “we don’t want to be in a situation where we are in a dryland, where we don’t have funding anymore, that is the reason why we are here”.
In addition, Monene further said that they will be forced to go to the presidency if they are not getting any satisfaction from the National Department of Health.
By Maano Leroy Nethanani
AgriAid SA has been relentless in its mission to turn around the HIV and AIDS epidemics around as such, on 07 December 2018 AgriAid SA in collaboration with MTO Lowveld hosted a health and wellness day at MTO lowveld under the theme ‘’Love your body through that course”.
This event is an annual initiative that is aimed at concertising employees and the community at large to focus on their personal health through participating in several organised activities of which include: HIV, TB, diabetes and hypertension testing, TB and STI screening, nutritional information, aerobics, Soccer and financial advice.
These services were offered by AgriAid SA, South African police services, Department of health (Mobile unit) and Old Mutual.
Motivational Speaker of the day Zanana Jonah whose living with Diabetes encouraged the crowd to take their health seriously by getting tested for HIV and other NCDs in closing she said ‘’HIV is manageable, get tested, know your status and get treatment immediately if need be”
Furthermore, AgriAidSA would like to acknowledge the donation made by PEP store who sponsored stationery goody packs that were given away to the participants on the day.
Despite significant progress made over the years, TB remains a threat in most of the world population. March 24 marks world Tuberculosis (TB) Day to raise public awareness and knowledge of TB prevention and treatment.
This year’s TB Day is celebrated under the theme: ‘’Wanted: Leaders for a TB free world, you can make history, end TB”.
World TB Day commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Koch announced that he had discovered the cause of Tuberculosis, there TB bacillus. At the time of Koch’s announced in Berlin TB was raging through Europe and America causing the death of one out of every seven people.
To this day, TB continues to be the top infectious killer, claiming over 4500 a day according to The World Health Organisation.
As such, World TB Day provides an opportunity and call upon leaders, health care providers, organisations and other partners to intensify care and support, following up on TB suspects and reaching key population areas, thus introducing strategic interventions.
It is noteworthy to mention the significant progress that AgriAid SA has made in agricultural communities to end the TB pandemic. To yet AgriAid SA has screened over 52147 and reached over 1439 TB suspects during 2016 through different program interventions such as mobile testing, door to door campaigns, twilight testing, partner index case finding and through Private Public Partnership clinics.
As with all health conditions, prevention of TB is always better than cure. As we move forward we call upon leaders from different sectors, health providers, NGOs and partners to join forces and accelerate efforts in ending TB.
By: Witness Mbali Motha (Communications Officer)
As more people urbanise to city-states and metropolitan areas they become vulnerable to lifestyle changes, consisting of sedentary behaviours and unhealthy diets of fast foods and processed foods. Consequently, this change in environments and behaviour has a massive impact on the quality of life and on people’s optimal health. Poor health behaviour can increase one’s chances of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes.
The 14th of November, among it being the month of raising awareness on men’s health issues (#Movember) is widely celebrated as world diabetes day, with the aim of raising awareness of the chronic condition and help combat the increasing rate of diabetes across the world.
Diabetes mellitus, commonly known as diabetes, describes a group of metabolic diseases characterised by high blood sugar (glucose) levels that result either because of inadequate insulin production or the body’s cells do not respond properly to insulin or both. Normally, blood glucose levels are tightly controlled by insulin, however, when you have diabetes the pancreas (an organ that lies near the stomach) does not produce enough insulin or cannot use its own insulin as required. As such, the blood contains very high blood sugar levels that circulate around the body and destroys blood vessels and nerves in some parts of the body.
Health24 postulates that about three and a half million South Africans (6% of the population) suffer from diabetes and there are much more who are undiagnosed. As such diabetes is counted among the top three leading causes of natural deaths in 2014, moving from the third position in 2014 to second in 2015. Moreover, according to the International Diabetes Federation, South Africa is one of the 32 countries of the IDF African region. 415 million people have diabetes in the world and more than 14 million people in the AFR Region; it is estimated that by 2040 this figure will more than double. There were 2.28 million cases of diabetes in South Africa in 2015.
Types of diabetes
Type 1 diabetes
A condition where the body stops producing insulin.
A condition that develops over time where the body is unable to use insulin properly
Refers to a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy.
Signs and symptoms of diabetes
Signs and symptoms of diabetes vary, depending on the type of diabetes that you might have. Type2 diabetes develops more gradually and often occurs unnoticed, symptoms of type 1 diabetes develop more quickly over a short period, because of elevated sugar levels. There are however common symptoms of diabetes and they include, frequent urination, excessive thirst, fatigue, extreme hunger, very dry skin, sores that are slow to heal and blurred eye vision.
How to control diabetes-Lifestyle changes–diet plan and medication
While there are several factors that influence the development of type2 diabetes, it is evident that the most influential are lifestyle behaviours, such as unhealthy diet characterised with high consumption of sugary foods, salt and fats, and physical inactivity.
As the population is rapidly growing, adopting and modifying unhealthy behaviours could be beneficial in preventing and managing type2 diabetes as type 1 cannot be preventable, such changes will include taking blood glucose-lowering medications following a healthy balanced meal plan engaging in an active lifestyle with regular exercise, cutting down on sugar as recommended by World Health Organisation.
Do you or someone you love have high blood pressure (hypertension)? Are you worried about the risk of having, a stroke or a heart attack because of it? You are not alone. Hypertension is the most common chronic condition among senior adults today.
High blood pressure refers to the force of blood against your artery walls as your heart pumps blood through your body, hypertension occurs when the force of blood is stronger than it normally should be. A normal blood pressure of an adult is regarded to be 120/80 mmHg, anyone whose blood pressure is higher for a longer period is said to have high blood pressure.
Over 1 in 3 South African adults, starting from the age of 15 and older, suffer from high blood pressure according to The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa. It is with sadness that South Africa is ranked among the most affected countries by hypertension placed fifth in the world. Such a high rapid rise is connected to behavioral and social factors among senior adults today.
Rise of Hypertension in Our Society
High blood pressure is a silent killer with no obvious symptoms, over 90% of adults already suffer from primary hypertension, this genetic condition is connected to socio patterns such as poor diets lacking needed nutrients, uncontrolled stress levels, smoking tobacco, being overweight and excessive alcohol intake. Another risk factor is the excessive intake of salt, which is currently consumed 2-3 times higher than the daily recommended allowance of 5g among South Africans. The government’s efforts to intervene has seen the legislation of sodium in certain foods to be minimized in not more than 5g per individual’s salt intake a day come into effect. Thus after the World Health Organization’s recommendation to reduce salt consumption by 2025 to a drastically 2g per day.
Effects of High Blood Pressure
Uncontrolled high blood pressure hardens your arteries, which decreases the flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and may lead to dangerous risks of strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure, damage to eyesight, swollen ankles, and shortness of breath. High blood pressure is particularly difficult for seniors who can suffer extreme fatigue which can result in loss of independence.
Proper Management of High Blood Pressure
Change in lifestyle plays an important role in managing high blood pressure such as adopting a healthy balanced diet, reducing your salt intake to less than 1 teaspoon (5g) a day, or by substituting your salt intake with other flavors such as dried herbs, spices, lemon juice, and garlic without the need for salt. In addition, limiting the use of alcohol, smoking and maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise, can reduce your risk of high blood pressure.
While South Africa is currently leading the fight against salt intake, we must take action to acknowledge the public and provide education about hypertension and its link to stroke and heart diseases. Moreover, efforts to raise health awareness in seniors must take centre stage to reduce the growing rise of high blood pressure in our society.
By: Sally Perkins
The burden of Tuberculosis (TB) in South Africa remains a serious threat, to yet TB is the highest killer among men in the country and third among women. Just over 33 000 deaths were attributed by TB in 2015 according to the Stats SA Mortality and causes of death in South Africa, 2015: Findings from death notification.
While much of the country’s investment on health is placed at reducing HIV, TB and STIs by 2022 according to the set targets as reflected in South Africa’s National Strategic Plan. There are, however, serious concerns with regards to finding key populations infected by TB and decreasing the number of Multi-Drug Resistant (MD) TB patients. The Tuberculosis South Africa Project held its annual TB Symposium on 29-30 May 2017, in addressing missing TB patients through prioritising key and hard to reach populations, with inputs and contributions by a number of key industry sectors and organisations.
Presentations and research studies were shared, among such present were from the National Department of Health, The Aurum Institute, TB/HIV Care Association, University of Cape Town; Occupational Medicine Division, Perinatal HIV Research Unit (PHRU), International Organisation Institute for Migration and much other more. You can access the presentations here.
It is noteworthy to mention and applaud at the same time efforts channelled at lowering the infection of TB and increase in enrolling patients on treatment, while this is positive in a country where with the existence of socio-economic patterns are critically unequal and the burden of health care is heavily reliant on the public sector. Notwithstanding, the threat being, since enrolling patients on MDR-TB treatment, is MDR-TB and XDR-TB. ‘’Treatment success has just barely reached 55% on MDR-TB,’’ said S’celo S. Dlamini, Director of Research, Information, Monitoring, Evaluation and Surveillance, National Department of Health. In addition, it is estimated that South Africa spends about R200 000 on a single MDR-TB patient, placing further weight on the government to roll out treatment. Such a risk is placed by defaulting TB patients, those who are exposed to MDR-TB patients (these include health care workers), wrong TB drug prescription and poor quality drug supply.
Professor G.J Churchyard from the Aurum Institute notes that ‘’South Africa will not meet the End TB targets at the current rate of decline. In order to “bend the curve” effective interventions need to be scaled up.’’ Much like the HIV approach, TB in South Africa needs to be addressed in a similar line, thus intensifying care and support, follow up, tracking and reaching key populations, and finally, but not limited to the above, introduce strategic interventions and cross-cutting interventions.
Know more about TB facts by clicking here.
By: Muzikayise Mike Maseko
The human heart is the most important organ in the human body, which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. Blood provides the body with oxygen and nutrients, as well as assists in the removal of metabolic wastes .Have you ever wondered what could happen if you could experience a slower or faster heart beat?
The Rhythm Society postulates that, millions of people experience irregular heartbeats at some point in their lives, such occurrence is called Arrhythmia, the 5th-11th of June 2017 highlights World Heart Rhythm Week, under the Theme: Identifying the Undiagnosed Person with the aim raising awareness of heart rhythm disorders.
Arrhythmia refers to any change from the normal sequence of your heartbeat, the heartbeats can happen too fast or too slower than the usual rate. According to MedlinePlus when the heart beats faster than normal it is often associated with tachycardia and when the heart beats too slowly one may suffer from bradycardia. However, the most common type of arrhythmia is atrial fibrillation, which causes an irregular and fast heartbeat.
A normal resting heart rate of an adult is regarded to be between 60 to 100 heartbeats per minute, however according to ER24 having a heartbeat faster than 100 beats per minute or lower than 60 beats per minute does not always mean you are at risk. For example, people experience a faster heartbeat when exercising and some experience a slower heartbeat when sleeping. If you are physically fit, your normal resting heartbeat may be lower than 60 pulses per minute.
There are certain risk factors that contribute to irregular heartbeats and may later, if left untreated contribute to the development of arrhythmia. Such factors include excessive alcohol intake, smoking, high blood pressure and unhealthy eating habits. To learn more about eating healthy go to http://agriaids.org.za/2017/04/25/scrutinize-your-eating-habits/
Excessive intake of alcohol can directly damage heart cells and cause extra heartbeats, according to WebMD people who drink heavily can develop a weak heart (alcoholic cardiomyopathy). When this occurs, they can have various arrhythmia including atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter and ventricular tachycardia
Smoking is one of the modifiable leading factors that leads to the development of arrhythmia, myDr in describing effects of smoking asserts that “carbon monoxide in cigarettes reduces the amount of oxygen available to the muscle, brain and blood .This means the whole body, especially the heart, must work harder. When the hearts pumps harder the pulse rate increases
Hypertension is one of the world’s leading causes of irregular heart rhythm. Hypertension, according to the World Health Organisation is an increase in blood pressure, wherein the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure, putting them under increased stress. Each time the heart beats; it pumps blood into the vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart must pump. Such pumping may disturb the normal sequence of the heart beat and lead to coronary diseases.
An unhealthy diet, lacking the needed nutrients and consisting of high sugar consumption, salt, saturated fats, and trans-fatty acids contributes to the development of irregular heartbeats leading to coronary diseases. According to research conducted by the World Heart Federation, approximately 16 million (1.0%) and 1.7 million (2.0%) of death worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption.
Arrhythmia can be harmless, serious or life threatening, some of the identifiable symptoms without involving a ultrasound of the heart include shortness of breath, chest discomfort, palpitations, dizziness, fatigue or sweating. However, you can check your pulse if you notice any irregularities by placing the tips of your index and middle fingers on the inner wrist of your other arm, just below the bottom of your thumb. Press your wrist lightly until you feel your pulse. Count the number of beats in 30 seconds and multiply by two to determine your heart rate in beats per minute.
by: Mbali Witness Motha
At the heart of the world’s mortality rate, high blood pressure reels a worrying trend not only among the elderly, as it is often assumed, but shockingly, research suggests that there has been an increase among children, adolescents and young adults. While the globe marked World Hypertension Day, 17 May 2017 under the theme ‘’Know your numbers,’’ it is with sadness that in developing countries and low-income areas the rate among the youth is swelling.
Hypertension, according to the World Health Organisation is an increase in blood pressure, wherein the blood vessels have persistently raised pressure, putting them under increased stress. Each time the heart beats; it pumps blood into the vessels, which carry the blood throughout the body. Blood pressure is created by the force of blood pushing against the walls of blood vessels (arteries) as it is pumped by the heart. The higher the pressure, the harder the heart has to pump.
The normal blood pressure of an adult is 120/80 mmHg and anything higher than that will certainly lead to the early stages of hypertension. Although, it must be noted that low blood pressure (hypotension) can alter dire consequences for one, which may result in life-threatening conditions such as a weak and rapid pulse, rapid and shallow breathing, cold, and clammy. Read more about low blood pressure here.
South Africa is among the world’s most affected countries by hypertension placed fifth (5), making it the second most affected in Africa just below Botswana according to World Health Rankings. Much of this is directly linked to social and behavioral factors. These contributing factors have adverse effects and encourage the rapid rise of hypertension among the youth. More than 90% of youths who are hypertensive suffer from primary hypertension, a condition that is genetically connected and as a result of unhealthy diet, overweight and stress.
Much of the aforementioned have become too familiar in South African, wherewith studies warn of a rising number of obese children who in most cases grow to be hypertensive. Although government’s intervention is heading in the right direction, thus the legislation of salt on informing that diets must not exceed 5 grams of salt intake per day. However, consumer behavior, change in societies and the culture of modernization are not all too easy on the situation. Socio-patterns such as alcohol abuse, smoking, lack of physical exercise and poor diet are among the risk factors for the development of hypertension.
While South Africa is leading the fight among low-income countries to reduce salt intake, it is inevitable and frankly saddening that in a country where the gap between the rich and the poor is big, and where the rate of unemployment among the youth is widening, such a challenge is far too unsettling. Yet, we need to acknowledge interventions and the great work that is done by government, organizations, institutions, health professions and campaigners in addressing and educating people about hypertension and its link to heart diseases and stroke. Moreover, efforts, although they need to be backed with efficient health services, on health awareness and health education need to take center stage from both government and civil society.
By: Muzikayise Mike Maseko
Nurses play a vital role in changing and shaping the livelihoods of millions of people across the world, the 12 of May is widely celebrated every year as International Nurse’s Day in recognition of the role they play in delivering and improving access to health care. This year’s theme is Nurses: A voice to Lead, Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The 12 of May is aimed at raising awareness amongst nursing professionals, general policy makers and communities at large, to recognise the amazing work that they do around the world and to achieve optimal health and improve people’s lives.
According to the International Council of Nurses, ‘’Nursing encompasses the promotion of health, prevention of illness and care of physically ill, mentally ill, and disabled people of all ages in all health care and other community settings. Within this broad spectrum of health care, the phenomena of concern to nurses are individual, family and group responses to actual or potential health problems’’.
Take a moment and think of the wide health problems we face every day, now try to think of how life could be without nurses and caregivers. To this end, nurses remain the voice of the patient and their inputs in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
The Sustainable Development Goals were adopted by the United Nations in 2005. According to (ICN) ‘’they contain 17 goals covering a broad range of sustainable development issues for the world, such as ending poverty, hunger, improving health and education, combating climate change, and etc.’’
Africa and many other countries across the world face numerous challenges in improving the health status of its population, with the existence of non-communicable diseases in our communities, such as heart diseases, cancer, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and chronic lung diseases, through the hard work and dedication of nurses, patients suffering from such illnesses are treated daily with the aim of improving their health status.
Let’s take a moment, as a world, to honour and to celebrate the hard work and dedication of nurses. As AgriAid SA, we would like to wish all nurses and caregivers across the world a happy International Nurses Day.
By: Witness Mbali Motha