However, achieving the eight Millenium Development Goals in 15 years set by the United Nations is proving to be elusive, and in many cases impossible for our country.
The SA Health Review 2010 looks at the health-related targets and concludes that the country is unlikely to meet most of these.
Although the country is committed to halving the number of people who suffer from hunger by 2015, the prevalence of underweight children has inched up by one percent in the past decade and one in 10 children are now underweight. This makes a reversal in the next five years ‘unlikely’.
Cutting the death rate of children under the age of five is also unlikely, given that mortality has jumped from 59 deaths per 1000 in 1998 to 104 deaths by 2007.
The same goes for maternal mortality, which has also surged from 369 per 100,000 in 2001 to 625 five years later.
The life expectancy target has been pegged at 70, but with South African men living until 55 and women until 60, this is also unlikely.
Achieving universal access to contraception and complete condom use every time a person has risky sex is unlikely too as only one-third of people reported access to contraception in 2009 and two-thirds used condoms in risky situations.
While good progress has been made to extend antiretroviral treatment to those who need it, ‘universal access’ to treatment is not possible given that only four out of 10 people who need ARVs are getting them.
Reducing tuberculosis is not happening either as the disease is on the increase, with an increase in cases of 10,000 over four years.
HIV/AIDS is the major cause of our country’s inability to reverse poor health trends.
But the good news is that South Africa is beginning to reverse the spread of HIV among people aged 15 to 24.
It has made significant gains in reducing malaria, with cases having been reduced from 64 600 in 2000 to 6 800.
Immunisation targets on track, and all pregnant women having at least one antenatal visit per pregnancy has been achieved.
South Africa has also halved the portion of people without access to clean drinking water and looks likely to achieve the same target for sanitation.