Limpopo still struggling
Plagued by poverty, drought, inadequate access to basic services and huge inequities, Limpopo faces enormous hurdles in bringing health to its 5,8-million inhabitants.
The most northerly of South Africa’s nine provinces, Limpopo is a land of contrasts.
It is a vast province of more than 120 000 square kilometres where the extreme poverty of local inhabitants is contrasted starkly by world famous game lodges where tourists and visitors enjoy the rugged landscape in fantastic luxury.
About 87 percent of residents live in rural areas. Almost a quarter have no access to piped water.
Although the primary health care (PHC) expenditure per person has improved significantly in the past four years to R184 per person, it is still the second lowest in South Africa.
Surprisingly, the clinic nurse’s workload is 18 patients per day. This was lowest in the country.
However, even with limited resources the tuberculosis cure rate is above the national target at 69,5 percent ‘ the second best in South Africa, with some districts performing brilliantly.
HIV testing of pregnant women has almost doubled in the last three years, but is still low at 46,5 percent.
At R145 per person, the Bohlabela district has one of the lowest expenditures on primary health care in the country. Despite this the TB cure rate has improved to almost 80 percent in 2005, making it one of the best performing districts in South Africa.
Vhembe district, a poor area that borders Zimbabwe, has close on 1,3-million inhabitants and is one of the country’s star performers. This district spends R237 per person on primary health care, the highest in the province. Nurses see around 27 patients a day and on average, residents visit the clinic four times a year, the second highest utilisation rate in South Africa.
The TB cure rate has improved from 63 percent in 2003 to over 75 percent a year later. This performance ranks Vhembe in the top five in the country.
Despite a consistent improvement in its condom distribution rate, the district has the highest sexually transmitted infection (STI) rate in the country at over 10 percent.
All Vhembe women give birth in health facilities and there is a high Caesarean section rate. This translates into a decline in the stillbirth and the lowest perinatal mortality rate in the province.