Sports for South African Girls
The importance of participation in sports for South African girls is pivotal to the long-term success of not only the individual lives of young women but for the country as a whole. South Africa produces talented Olympic athletes, such as Caster Semenya and Wayde van Niekerk, and has a love of soccer, rugby and cricket in addition to track and field, cycling and many others. Irrespective of this continued investment of time, energy and money into national sports, women continue to be underrepresented and receive the least amount of support as athletes. For example, at professional levels, the nation’s three most popular sports – soccer, rugby and cricket – have yet to establish high-profile professional leagues for women.

According to the most recent study conducted by the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee, of the Olympic athletes receiving support, only nine out of 30 are women. Out of the 20 coaches who are working with these Olympic athletes, only three are women.

South Africa was one of the first countries to adopt The Brighton Declaration on Women and Sport, a set of laws passed to increase women’s participation in sports. In addition, the country passed the National Sport and Recreation Amendment Act to remedy inequalities in sport and recreation in South Africa by requiring federations to make necessities available for women and disabled people to participate at the top levels of sports. Despite these efforts, sports and gender equality in South Africa has not yet been achieved.

Why It Matters

For young women, equal representation of female athletes is important because it can positively influence their desire to compete in sports and seek the benefits which they provide. People can only believe what they see, so more work needs to be done surrounding media coverage and daily exemplification. Sports not only promote physical health and wellness, but they also teach discipline, dedication, determination and teamwork. These learned skills are important for application in life beyond sports and help create future female leaders.

Participation in sports provides students with the opportunity to socialize with their peers, promotes students’ health, improves physical fitness, increases academic performance and provides a sense of relaxation. In spite of these benefits, participation in sports for South African girls peaks between the ages of 10 to 13 years but then declines until the age of 18.

A study done in the rural province of Limpopo, South Africa found that 101 female students from 17 to 24 years old did not participate in sports because of five common barriers. These included: “I don’t like the dress code,” “lack of energy,” “lack of family support,” “family commitments” and “not in my culture.” Dress code remains a major barrier to participation in sports among girls in rural areas. In particular, Xhosa and Tsonga women will not wear sports attire like pants or shorts because they do not consider it culturally unacceptable.

Several factors influence the level of participation. One can break these factors down into structural, intrapersonal and interpersonal constraints. Structural factors refer to a lack of facilities, time constraints or financial resources. Intrapersonal constraints refer to the psychological states of individuals. Interpersonal constraints include a lack of partners or friends.

A Lack of energy was also a barrier which could be caused by the reduction of physical activity participation in physical education in schools, but exercise can actually increase energy levels. Lack of family support revealed that females without encouragement or support from their families to participate in school sports are less likely to participate in them moving forward.

U.N. Women and the Promotion of Female Empowerment

Systematically ingrained cultural beliefs, like dress code, are some of the reasons for a lack of female participation in sports. If these beliefs can be dismantled on a small, everyday level there is an ability to create more widespread acceptance across South Africa.

That is where organizations such as U.N. Women and Grassroot Soccer come in. The U.N. Women’s goal is to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women in developing countries. These organizations aim to set global standards for achieving gender equality and work with governments and civil society to design laws, policies and programs that ensure the standards are not only beneficial to women and girls worldwide, but effectively implemented as well. One of their many goals includes increasing female participation in sports as a means to fulfill four pillars.

  1. Women lead, participate in and benefit equally from governance systems.
  2. Women have income security, decent work and economic autonomy.
  3. All women and girls live a life free from all forms of violence.
  4. Women and girls contribute to and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action.

Grassroot Soccer

Grassroot Soccer is just one example of the work U.N. Women is investing in. This program is a grantee of the United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence against Women. Grassroot Soccer uses the power of soccer to encourage young people to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS and to prevent violence against women and girls.

In 2009, it created the SKILLZ Street program in South Africa to specifically target and address the needs of adolescent girls who are at a higher risk of contracting HIV and AIDS than males. Fast forward to 2014 and 2015, almost 3,000 girls from the ages of 10 to 14 years old graduated from the program.

Many of these girls are from townships, a term used to refer to the underdeveloped and racially segregated urban areas reserved for nonwhites in the Apartheid era. Township residents have a lack of access to basic sewerage, adequate roads, electricity, clean water, education and overexposure to gangs and gang violence. The young women participating in the SKILLZ Street Program range from Soweto and Alexandra townships in Johannesburg and Khayelitsha township in Cape Town.

Grassroot Soccer’s Managing Director, James Donald, explains the importance for South African female participation in sports saying, “For us, sport…means we can build relationships with children in a safe space that they are proud of participating in.” He goes on to explain that “[it] also provides a plethora of ready images, metaphors and analogies that children can relate to. Soccer, in particular, is a powerful way to challenge norms and stereotypes around gender.”

The knowledge surrounding the importance of participation in sports for South African girls needs to be more widespread in order to improve the long-term success of impressionable young women in this still developing country. An investment in organizations such as Grassroot Soccer is pivotal to aid women to go on to become confident future leaders who can set good examples for generations of South African girls to come.

– Meredith Breda
Photo: Flickr

Ryan Lewis's Mom Fights Global AIDS
Ryan Lewis is a successful DJ, musician, and producer and ultimately, a very famous man. However, there was a 25 percent chance when he was born that he would contract HIV. Thankfully, he did not, but other infants with similar risks are not always so fortunate. Such occurrences are part of the reason why, while Ryan Lewis makes music, Ryan Lewis’s mom fights global AIDS.

Ryan Lewis’s Mom Fights Global AIDS

Ryan Lewis’s mother, Julie Lewis, is a 59-year-old, HIV-positive woman. She contracted HIV in 1984 when she received contaminated blood during a blood transfusion after her complicated first pregnancy with her daughter, Teresa. She was not diagnosed until 1990, during which time she gave birth to Laura and Ryan, who were both fortunate enough not to contract her HIV. Julie was only given 3 to 5 years to live.

However, Julie Lewis is still alive and relatively well today thanks to modern medicine. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to do something special to celebrate her life, and her contribution to society became founding the 30/30 Project and, with a little help from Ryan, raising $160,000 to help the project build its first clinic in Malawi. The project would only get bigger from there.

The 30/30 Project

The 30/30 Project is so named because it aims to build 30 clinics and keep them running for 30 years. Of the 18 clinics that have been, or are still, being constructed, 15 of them are in Africa, 1 is in India, and 2 are in Washington.

Such growth was accomplished by partnering with healthcare partners who live in towns, and villages of interest who lack the supplies and/or abilities to build the clinics themselves. Once the partnership had been established, it’s all a matter of designing the building, sending volunteer construction workers to oversee the project and helping the staff the clinic.

For example, one of the targeted areas was Limpopo, South Africa. This rural town has a high unemployment rate, a low education rate and a 19 to 27 percent prenatal HIV rate. The 30/30 Project partnered with the Ndlovu Care Group to construct a clinic there — the two-story, solar-powered building opened in fall of 2017 and features a waiting area, care clinic and laboratory.

30/30 Project Results

Of the 18 clinics that are mentioned on the 30/30 Project website, 13 of them have been completed. Each of these clinics has substantially improved the quality of care that HIV-positive individuals in the community can receive.

For example, the clinic in Limpopo, South Africa serves 7,600 people with HIV as well as provides the Ndlovu Care Group with a place to work on vaccines for HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis. The clinic in the Bududa District in Uganda serves over 16,000 people. The one in Madhya Pradesh, India cares for 5,000 people. Ultimately, Julie plans to provide 600,000 people with the same high-quality healthcare that allowed her to survive.

The Fight for Progress

As Ryan Lewis’s mom fights global AIDS, clinics are being constructed in developing nations so that HIV-positive people can receive the care they need. At 13 clinics and counting, it is clear that the 30/30 Project has already made a sizable impact in terms of how many people can survive their AIDS diagnosis.

Thanks to the efforts of Julie Lewis and all those who support her, HIV-positive people in these communities can now live long, healthy lives — just like Julie has.

– Cassie Parvaz
Photo: Flickr

Cape Town water
Cape Town, South Africa has experienced a drought for the last three years, leading up to what officials are calling ‘Day Zero,’ or the day the city will turn off a large portion of its tap water and turn to rationing the remaining water among citizens. However, water shortage issues began as early as 1995 with little action from the city to remedy the situation.

Water Crisis

What happened in 1995 that caused a crisis over two decades later? The population of Cape Town began increasing and has steadily increased by over three-quarters of its previous population. Fortunately, this multiplication alone was not the cause of the water crisis; rather, it was population growth paired with little increase in water storage.

The city failed to compensate a growing population to its water usage, and while this has made a significant impact on the amount of water in Cape Town, the city has still been able to maintain reasonable water levels despite a lack of added water storage facilities.

This success is primarily due to plentiful rainfall during the monsoon seasons, which may also be why Cape Town has previously failed to increase its water storage for so many years.

Restrictions and Rations

Unfortunately, a drought began in South Africa in 2015 that severely limited the amount of water available to citizens, especially those in Cape Town.

The drought brought to light the water storage issue for Cape Town officials who began urging citizens to conserve the remaining water. They initially asked that each citizen use approximately 87 liters of water before decreasing the amount to a mere 50 liters, or just over 13 gallons, daily.  

The South African government has created a rationing system to be implemented when the water levels decrease to a low enough level. The day this occurs is the day referred to as ‘Day Zero.’ However, in the meantime, the most energy is being placed into reminding citizens to continue to reduce their water usage.

Applications and Online Services

In light of the water crisis, the University of Cape Town has developed a series of cell phone applications that will aid in water conservation. The first is a free application called ‘DropDrop.’

DropDrop allows users to track water usage in real time, helping citizens ensure that they are staying within the city’s new water restrictions. The app is especially useful in areas where regular access to the internet does not exist due to the application’s offline nature after initial download.

Among the services created for Capetonians during the water crisis is an organization, Picup. The group started with the goal of quickly shipping water to Cape Town residents, and now allows Capetonians to order bottled water and receive it to one’s home within 24 hours.

The water can be purchased in two order sizes, with the smallest being 30 liters with an affordable price tag of around 176 Rands, or approximately $13.

City Initiatives

Among the initiatives implemented to conserve water in Cape Town is the initiative started by Cape Town officials that monitors household water usage. The initiative also awards certificates and name recognition on the city website for households showing a 10 percent or higher decrease in water usage.

The city also gives daily updates on water levels for surrounding dams in order to encourage Capetonians in their conservation efforts.

Moving Forwards

Despite the outstanding circumstances Cape Town has faced over the last few years, the future looks bright. With a strong community making huge lifestyle changes to conserve water, the city’s water basins are filling back up and allowing citizens to be a part of a community survival story.

The water crisis in Cape Town has proved the city’s growing wisdom and trendsetting environmental responsibility. This growth has not only set an example for the world to follow, but it has also been the first to prove that any inescapability, even one as drastic as ‘Day Zero,’ can be overcome.  

Alexandra Ferrigno
Photo: Flickr

ATM pharmacies in South Africa Cut Wait Times for Chronically Ill PatientsThe suburb of Alexandra, South Africa, is now home to Africa’s first pharmacy dispensing unit. ATM pharmacies in South Africa are expected to have a profound effect on the wait time for patients and the efficiency of clinics.

Simple Solution to Improve Lives

The machine operates as seamlessly as an ATM that dispenses money and completes the transaction in as little as three minutes as opposed to hours. Also known as an “ATM pharmacy,” the unit comes as a convenience to citizens with chronic illnesses, while freeing up space in local clinics. Most importantly, people dependent on medication have another option in receiving repeat medication that does not compromise safety or effectiveness.

The new development comes from experts from nonprofit Right to Care, Right ePharmacy and the Gauteng Department of Health. Right to Care works to provide prevention, care and treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as tuberculosis and cervical cancer.

Developers chose Alexandra as the first location because of its large population, burdened facilities, and level of need, Right ePharmacy managing director Fanie Hendriksz said.

The Need for ATM Pharmacies in South Africa

Innovations like ATM pharmacies in South Africa are a step toward higher-quality healthcare, making it easier for patients to be consistent with their medication schedules. One of the main target groups for this project was people with HIV in need of repeat antiretroviral medicine, as South Africa now has the world’s largest AIDS treatment program.

In addition to being overcrowded, some clinics are also understaffed. Nurses may be referred to other clinics to compensate for lack of staff. HIV/AIDS activist Bhekisisa Mazibuko broke into Kgabo clinic pharmacy to make a point about the outlandish wait times for chronic medications in Tshwane, a city not far from Johannesburg. Some patients start waiting in line as early as 3 a.m.

Mazibuko, who lives with HIV, used a brick to break the pharmacy door after it closed for the day at 4 p.m., not attending to patients who had been waiting for hours. He distributed medicine to hypertension, diabetes and HIV patients before being arrested.

A Way Forward

Patients whose conditions are stabilized are encouraged to use the pharmacy dispensing unit (PDU), although a referral from a doctor is necessary. The patient engages in a simple process of scanning their personal ID and entering a pin and speaking with a pharmacist via video correspondence.

Through this video chat, patients can be advised and directed on how to take the medication and its possible side effects. The patient then selects their medication which is robotically dispensed along with a receipt. The PDU has served more than 4,000 people and dispensed 18,000 prescription medications so far.

According to Right to Care chief executive Ian Sanne, the amount of time South Africans spend waiting in line at health facilities is quite extensive and is damaging to economic productivity. ATM pharmacies in South Africa is likely just the beginning of many healthcare innovations in Africa.

– Camille Wilson
Photo: Flickr

69. South Africa & Madagascar Sign the African Tripartite Free Trade AreaWith the growing appeal of economic integration in Africa, more pressure is being put on state actors to sign the African Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). This agreement, along with the existence of other regional trade alliances, are a large factor that drives local growth. As of now, 20 of 26 countries have signed the agreement: the latest addition to sign the African Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement are South Africa and Madagascar, in July 2017.

The African Tripartite Free Trade Area namely is meant to bring together partnering members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Most of these 26 countries signed the TFTA into action on June 10th of 2015 in Sharm-el-Sheik, Egypt, representing “48 percent of the African Union membership, 51 percent of continental GDP and a combined population of 632 million“.

As more parties sign the African Tripartite agreement and bring it closer to finalization, they are expected to benefit from a more diversified trade market with a higher proportion of intermediate and value-added products. This will likewise bring in more investments towards infrastructure, connectivity, and production linkages in regional value chains to better integrate into global value chains.

The TFTA Declaration of 2015 focuses on industrial development, infrastructure development, and market integration, and is made up of 45 articles and 10 annexes covering a range of provisions. It intends to liberalize 100 percent of tariff lines by consolidating tariff regimes of the EAC and SADC. These are not extraordinary numbers, as 60 to 85 percent liberalization was agreed upon before entry into the Agreement with the remaining 40 to 15 percent to be negotiated over the ensuing five to eight years.

Secondly, it aims to create a process in which problems that arise with non-tariff barriers can be identified, reported, and resolved through the creation of a sub-committee devoted to this. The Declaration also sets out conditions on goods for preferential rules of origin, plus safety measures on dumping, subsidization and imports surges with the creation of a dispute settling body. Further provisions include those on the elimination of quantitative restrictions, customs cooperation, trade facilitation, infant industries and balances of payments. Most of these are consistent under World Trade Organization obligations and international best practices.

Since the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement is currently being negotiated alongside the TFTA, this means the TFTA is now part of the acquis of trade integration in Africa so that the CFTA will build off of the TFTA. The CFTA can also prove beneficial as a starting point for dialogue with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and to North and Central African blocs next.

Since the last meeting of the Tripartite Committee of Sectoral Ministers in Kampala, Uganda, previously outstanding annexes have been approved and adopted as the agreement nears its expected entry date of October 2017. Now only 14 more countries need to rectify the agreement, Egypt being the first and only one to do so thus far. This will allow these countries to enjoy a larger, freer and more integrated market with flow of business persons, competitive business and investments throughout Africa.

Zar-Tashiya Khan

Photo: Flickr

Cost of Giving BirthFor something as common and essential as the creation of life, delivering a child can come at quite the cost. Though the United States holds some of the steepest delivery-related costs in the world, many countries around the globe offer maternal healthcare at astronomical prices. These services cater to wealthier families and leave the poor and uninsured to struggle. In rural and low-income communities especially, the high cost of giving birth is very risky for women and newborns.

In many countries, there is a large quality gap between public and private hospitals. Even though there are public hospitals in South Africa, for example, that offer free healthcare services, these facilities often lack adequate equipment and accommodations for mothers and their newborns. One hospital outside of Johannesburg lost six infants around three years ago because it had run out of antiseptic soaps.

Private health facilities typically offer higher-quality healthcare services but at much steeper prices. On average, it costs a woman $2,000 to give birth at a private healthcare facility in South Africa. This is a cost that less than half of South Africa’s population can afford due to large income inequality problem and a widespread lack of health insurance coverage. Families instead settle for menial care or, in some cases, forgo care altogether.

As an alternative to formal care, women commonly hire traditional birth attendants (TBAs) to help with deliveries in rural areas of developing countries like Ethiopia. TBAs lack official training but are more affordable than midwives, who can cost upwards of 2,000 Ethiopian birr, about $90, or even more if a Caesarean-section is necessary. The result is a population that is underserved when it comes to delivery-side medical attention. Only 2 percent of deliveries in rural Ethiopia are administered by a health professional.

Tadelech Kesale, a 32-year-old mother from Ethiopia’s Wolayta province, has suffered due to insufficient care and the exorbitant cost of giving birth. Kesale had her first baby when she was 18 and has since lost three of her six children, one of whom was stillborn. Kesale typically earns two to three birr, equivalent to a tenth of a dollar, each week and was unable to hire a qualified professional for any of her deliveries.

“I gave birth at home with a traditional birth attendant,” Kesale said. “If I could afford it, I would go into a clinic. One of my friends, Zenebexh, died in labor – she just started bleeding after breakfast and fell down dead. A healer came but couldn’t do anything.”

The cost of giving birth in private hospitals in India is similarly prohibitive. Although government facilities hospitalize women and assist with delivery for free, many expecting mothers opt for private facilities for the higher quality of care. These facilities typically charge around $1,165 for basic delivery services $3,100 for Caesarean-section deliveries.

The costliness of Caesarean-sections and other procedures can be deterrents for poorer mothers who are faced with complications during labor or pregnancy. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that only 35 percent of women in developing countries receive the care they need when faced with complications. When such needs go unmet, both mothers and their babies face life-threatening medical risks.

The costs of transport to and from health centers can also be discouraging for expecting mothers, forcing them to deliver at home or in other unsterilized spaces. In rural areas especially, transportation is necessary to travel the long distances to health centers, though it is not always readily available. Aside from being expensive, it can also be scarce; as a result, many women deliver in their houses. When complications arise during delivery, this can be especially perilous.

Though there is no one way to remedy the astronomical cost of giving birth in countries around the globe, organizations like Oxfam are calling on the U.S. and other developed nations to send increased aid to countries with high rates of maternal and infant mortality. This aid can serve mothers and their babies in a myriad of ways, from covering basic health care costs to making it more possible for new moms to take time off from work after delivery. Ultimately, it will mitigate the steep costs many families must meet during and after pregnancy, providing mothers with the assistance they need to have safe, successful deliveries.

Sabine Poux

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in South Africa
South Africa has been a leader in human rights in the African continent since the end of apartheid. The nation has many protections for civil liberties, but the status of human rights in South Africa has been threatened by government inaction and possible corruption, as well as a rising tide of xenophobic sentiments. Here are nine facts about human rights in South Africa.

Human Rights in South Africa: 

  1. Freedom of expression, religion, and the press are constitutionally protected human rights in South Africa. However, the freedom of media has been a concern after the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) made moves that threatened the credibility of South Africa’s state-run media. ISABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng used the SABC to protect the reputation of South African President Jacob Zuma. Motsoeneng accomplished this by banning coverage of violent political protests, firing journalists who criticized the ban, refusing to air political advertisements and directing journalists cover Zuma positively. Motsoeneng was ordered to step down by the South African judiciary, but he was later rehired in a different role only to once again be forced to step down by the courts two months later.
  2. A recently proposed hate crime bill could further threaten freedom of speech in South Africa. Critics have stated that it’s too broad in its criminalization of hate speech and could severely limit the ability of South Africans to express controversial opinions.
  3. Freedom to peacefully protest and assemble is also a constitutional right in South Africa. While protesters must notify the police ahead of time, they are rarely denied assembly. Recently, skirmishes between student protesters and the police have turned violent, and many have criticized the police for using unnecessary force.
  4. Deaths through police action have declined from previous years, but police violence still remains an issue in South Africa. From 2015-2016 there have been hundreds of reported cases of assault, torture and rape committed by police officers and deaths in police custody.
  5. Since the end of apartheid, South Africa has implemented many anti-discrimination protections. However, the effects are still felt today. Though white people are a minority in South Africa, they still own the majority of business assets and farmland in the region. Opportunities for non-whites remain comparatively restricted.
  6. South Africa has a highly progressive asylum policy for refugees. From 2006-2012, it accepted more refugees than any other nation in the world. Rather than being stuck in camps, refugees in South Africa live in cities and access the same public utilities that South Africans do. Unfortunately, strong anti-immigrant rhetoric and frustrations with South African governance have resulted in many violent attacks against foreigners.
  7. South Africa has failed to provide children with disabilities equal opportunities for education. Disabled children can be denied access to public schools and forced to attend special schools. South Africa has free public education, but parents are forced to pay fees if they have a disabled child in a special school. The UN has recommended that South Africa review its policies to make education more inclusive.
  8. South African law enforces gender equality and women currently make up 42 percent of National Assembly seats. However, women are often subject to discrimination, paid less than their male counterparts and occupy fewer roles of authority in business. In addition, domestic violence and rape are highly underreported crimes in South Africa. In 2006, President Jacob Zuma faced rape charges that he was later cleared of. The trial elicited concern from anti-rape activists due to the intense heckling of the alleged victim, the cross-examination of the alleged victim’s sexual history and Zuma’s own comments on their sexual encounter.
  9. Nearly 20 percent of adults and nearly one-third of pregnant women in South Africa live with HIV. The government has made moves to effectively treat its population through improving access to antiretroviral therapy. It also launched a She Conquers campaign that confronts the high rates of HIV in young women and aims to reduce teenage pregnancy.

Human rights in South Africa are pretty well protected. However, working towards an equitable society and holding the state accountable will be necessary for preserving these rights.

Carson Hughes

Photo: Flickr

Mwabu Teaching Academy
Tens of thousands of students in South Africa are not receiving a quality education due to poor teaching. Around 5,000 teachers in the country are underqualified or completely unqualified in their positions. While this is an improvement from the numbers reported in 2015, the amount is still perturbing. Education technology provider Mwabu is launching a Mwabu teaching academy to train teachers how to better educate their students.

This initiative is important in that educating future generations well can help break the cycle of poverty in poor areas, and good education starts with good teachers. Along with providing interactive learning technology and lesson plans to primary schools, Mwabu has established a teaching academy to offer teachers a chance to learn and enrich their teaching styles. This is done through online training, access to resources and observational visits.

Teachers will have access to resources such as interactive lesson plans, teaching tips, management tools and reporting dashboards. They will be provided with the correct answers to practice questions, allowing them to focus on their teaching of the question rather than finding the right answer. The program also tells teachers the proper amount of time that should be taken to answer each question.

Mwabu established its hub in Rosebank, Johannesburg in June this year. They have since reached 180,000 primary school students. Mwabu has partnered with local electronics manufacturer Onyx Connect to produce tablets for their program. This partnership has decreased the price of the tablets.

Mwabu has launched a home version of their software in Zambia, and the company hopes to introduce it in South Africa as well. The home version works to improve the educational skills of parents so they can help their children with homework and support. Tablets can be used at home, where parents can perform revisions and tests and read with their children.

A study done in the schools using Mwabu’s training in Zambia have shown that 50 percent of Mwabu-trained teachers use songs, games or stories, while only 25 percent of non-Mwabu teachers do. Similarly, 40 percent of Mwabu teachers ask their students follow-up questions when they give a right answer, while no non-Mwabu teachers do. This research shows how the Mwabu teaching academy trains teachers to use engaging, student-centered lessons.

With the Mwabu teaching academy, teachers will be a part of a network of other teachers and educators who strive toward better educational practices. Teachers will be better equipped to educate their pupils, building up a learned and qualified future generation.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Google

Poverty in South Africa has been an ongoing problem, despite it being a focal point of the country’s constitution. According to an article from Poverties, the constitution in South Africa states that all citizens should have access to “social security, including, if they are unable to support themselves and their dependants, appropriate social assistance.” Facts and figures in South Africa relating to this issue show that a substantial portion of the country’s population is living in extreme poverty.

An article from the Daily Maverick explained that approximately half of the population in South Africa is living in poverty. In addition, about 21.7 percent of the country’s population is living in extreme poverty, according to the article.

Those living in this state of extreme poverty are often not able to afford food items that meet basic nutritional standards. While a little over half of the population is able to afford enough food, those who fall under this category are still considered to be within the widest definition of poverty in South Africa.

Poverty statistics from 2011 reveal that the number of those living in poverty in South Africa is increasing from year to year. While some data has shown that there may be long-term declines in poverty, missing poverty-reduction targets such as the one set for 2015 shows that South Africa is still far from eradicating poverty in the region.

According to data published by the World Bank, the GNI per capita in South Africa went from $6,090 in 2015 to $5,480 in 2016. The GDP growth was approximately 1.3 percent in 2015 and 0.3 percent in 2016.

The facts and figures in South Africa provided by the World Bank also stated that the poverty headcount ratio at $1.90 a day was approximately 16.9 percent in 2008 compared to 16.6 percent in 2011. While this reduction is good, it is only slight progress.

In 2010, the poverty headcount ratio at national poverty lines was approximately 53.8 percent. Facts and figures in South Africa point towards the future improvement in respect to poverty, though change is fairly slow moving.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr

South Africa has one of the highest rates of tuberculosis (TB) in the world. The disease has continued to be the leading cause of death since 1997. Responsible for around 38,000 deaths annually, it remains one of the most common diseases in South Africa, especially in poorer areas where people are not properly vaccinated, cannot afford medical care and do not have access to decent healthcare services.

Tuberculosis is easily spread through the air, and those with a compromised immune system, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are especially susceptible. This puts a large portion of the population at heightened risk as an estimated seven million South Africans have HIV.

A tuberculosis vaccine is available but is usually only for children or young adults at risk. For those who have the disease, a strict antibiotic routine for a minimum of six months is necessary to completely eradicate the bacteria. If the treatment is not followed correctly or completed in full, then the bacteria may become resistant to the drug and even more difficult to treat. It is necessary to educate patients on the importance of finishing treatment and to limit the spread of the disease.

In a recently published study conducted by Dr. Nazir Ismail, the head of the Centre for Tuberculosis at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, results showed that TB has been on the decline. During the last three years of the 12-year period, the number of new TB cases had dropped between four to six percent annually.

Influenza and pneumonia are other common diseases in South Africa. Together these diseases account for around 22,000 deaths each year, the second highest cause of death in South Africa. Influenza, also known as the flu, is highly contagious from person to person and is a common cause of pneumonia. People infected with HIV are also far more likely to develop pneumonia when they contract influenza.

There are vaccines available for both influenza and some types of pneumonia that are not completely protective. Flu vaccinations change seasonally. Pneumonia vaccines are necessary only once or with a booster. Actual treatment depends on the variation and severity of the disease. Rest and fluids may be enough, but some cases may require antibiotics.

Statistics show that heart disease is a leading cause of death amongst the middle and upper-class populations in South Africa. Gastric diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera and others caused by contaminated water, are more common among impoverished populations.

Even though the death rate from these common diseases in South Africa seems high, the overall mortality rate is decreasing. The country seeks to lower the rate even further through better medical care and treatment of these diseases.

Hannah Kaiser

Photo: Flickr