State of the nation’€™s health

The Eastern Cape’€™s Oliver Tambo and Alfred Nzo districts, lying adjacent to one another in what was once the Transkei, are once again the poorest districts in the country. They are joined at the bottom by uMkhanyakude in the far north of KwaZulu-Natal.


This is according to the District Health Barometer 2006/7, which was unveiled to health officials yesterday (Wed).


Overall Limpopo is the poorest province in the country with almost seven out of 10 households living on less than R800 per month.


Unsurprisingly, health and wealth go hand-in-hand. The wealthiest three districts in the country ‘€“ West Coast, Overberg and Cape Winelands ‘€“ are all in the Western Cape. In addition, all six of the Western Cape’€™s districts are in the top 20%, along with Gauteng’€™s West Rand, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane.


The Barometer is compiled from Department of Health statistics collected by clinics in the country’€™s 52 districts, and compares 25 health and socio-economic indicators across these districts.


Despite health indicators being high in the Western Cape, the professional nurses in clinics in the Cape Town Metro have the highest workloads in the country. They see a staggering 51 patients a day in contrast to the national average of 27 patients a day.


The Barometer warns that such high loads could lead to nurse burnout and compromise   the quality of patient care.


In contrast, nurses in Limpopo’€™s Capricorn, Greater Sekhukhune and Waterberg districts saw 15 patients or less a day, which indicates that the nurses’€™ scarce skills are not being well used.


The supervision of staff at primary healthcare facilities was generally poor, particularly in the Eastern Cape and Johannesburg.


The cost per patient per day in district hospitals was particularly high in the Northern Cape. This could indicate poor data or indicate how expensive it is to treat patients in the country’€™s biggest yet most sparsely populated province.


Health services in the Eastern Cape have been cause for concern for a number of years, and the province is still spending less per capita than the national average.


Only six out of 10 households in OR Tambo district, which includes Mthatha, Qumbu and Flagstaff, have to access to pied water. Almost eight out of 10 households lived on less than R800 a month in 2005.


Health Systems Trust’€™s Fiorenza Monticelli said that this was the third year that the Barometer had been published, which meant that health trends ‘€“ particularly whether resources are being distributed equitably countrywide ‘€“ were now emerging.


The richest districts used to spend nine times more on non-hospital primary health care (clinics and community healthcare centres) than the poorest ones when we first started. There is now a threefold difference, so this is a significant improvement,’€ said Monticelli.


Click here to read the full report.


Other Provinces:


Western Cape


Eastern Cape


Northern Cape

North West Province

Free State



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