28 September 2012

26 SA medical stats

SA healthcare is in turmoil. Here are some interesting stats about the state of healthcare in our country.


Medical care in South Africa is a hot topic. The last five statistics were provided by Dr Jonathan Broomberg, CEO of Discovery Health, in a speech at the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) Conference held in September in Cape Town. The rest were provided in a press release from Profmed and taken from the government website

  • Seventy-four percent of state health facilities failed to comply with cleanliness rules. (Graham Anderson, the Principal Officer of Profmed, quoted statistics provided in Parliament in 2011).
  • These stats also revealed that staff attitude was found to be sub-standard in 69% of facilities.
  • Furthermore,  55% of facilities did not have the necessary medicines and supplies.
  • About 17% of South Africans belong to medical schemes, according to, a government website.
  • The health budget for 2012/2013 paid from the SA National Treasury was R121-billion.
  • The total health spend in SA was R248,6-billion, which represented 8,3% of our GDP. This includes contributions by private individuals to medical schemes. The World Health Organization recommends it should be no more than 5%.
  • The SA government has as a goal to increase life expectancy from 56.5 years in 2009 to 58.5 years in 2014.
  • South Africa has more than 110 registered medical schemes, with around 3, 4-million principal members (and 7,8-million beneficiaries).
  • There are 4 200 public health facilities in South Africa.
  • Since 1994, more than 1 600 clinics have been built or upgraded.
  • In March 2012, 165 371 qualified health practitioners in both public and private sectors were registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
  • The doctor-to-population ratio is estimated to be 0.77 per 1 000. But because the vast majority of GPs – 73% – work in the private sector, there is just one practising doctor for every 4 219 people.
  • About 1 200 medical students graduate annually.
  • The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa had 3 773 registered "complementary health" practitioners in 2012.
  • An estimated 1,06-million adults and 105 123 children were receiving antiretroviral treatment in 2010. This was up from 101 416 and close to 12 000 children in 2005.
  • In 2011, 16,6% of the adult population (aged 15–49) years was HIV-positive.
  • The HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign was launched in April 2010 – by mid- 2012, almost 20-million people had been tested and knew their status. Millions were also screened for TB.
  • South Africa has a maternal mortality ratio of 310 deaths per 100 000 live births.
  • The infant (under-1) mortality rate in 2010 was 41 deaths per 1 000 live births.
  • Only 4% of the population is at high risk of malaria and 6% at low risk, while 90% live in malaria-free areas.
  • An estimated 80% of South Africans consult with traditional healers alongside general medical practitioners.
  • Broomberg said that medical inflation at 10,9% was almost double general CPI inflation of 5,5%.
  • There are three fundamental drivers of the high cost of medical care: new technology; new facilities opening; and doctors’ decisions.
  • There has been a 12% increase in the burden of disease over the last 4 years.
  • Increased hospital utilisation was a major factor contributing 40% to increased hospital inflation and an average annualised increase in hospital claims of 2,01%. 
  • Broomberg also pointed out that 650 000 Discovery members would require R3bn for chronic medication this year.

(Compiled by Susan Erasmus, Health24, September 2012)

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