President Jacob Zuma is concerned about the “alarming increase” of lifestyle diseases.
Delivering his State of the Nation Address to a joint sitting of Parliament on Thursday evening, Zuma said the country needed to combat and lower the levels of smoking, harmful effects of alcohol, poor diets and obesity.
He said that five years ago, South Africa had such a low life expectancy that experts suggested that by 2015, South Africa’s life expectancy would have been exactly where it was in 1955.
“It was with good reason that we were delighted when late last year, studies from the Medical Research Council, the Lancet medical journal and others began reporting a dramatic increase in life expectancy from an average baseline of 56 years in 2009 to 60 years in 2011. These reports also noted significant decreases in infant and under five mortality.”
Zuma said increased life expectancy was a key to the country’s development.
“People are returning to work, they are being productive, economically and socially. The family structure is increasingly stable and parents live longer and are able to take care of their children.”
He warned, however, that we should not become complacent given the high co-infection rate between HIV and TB, we have integrated these services.
The National Health Insurance Fund would be created by 2014, and the Department of Health would accelerate and intensify progress in the pilot districts. In that regard, as from April this year, the first group of approximately 600 private medical practitioners will be contracted to provide medical services at 533 clinics within villages and townships in 10 of the pilot districts,” said Zuma.
Highlighting some of the achievements in the health sector, Zuma said South Africa has discovered a candidate drug to treat Malaria researchers at the Centre for the Aids Programme of Research in South Africa (Caprisa) consortium, also discovered broad neutralising antibodies against HIV.
Deputy President Motlanthe has appointed new members of the South African National Aids Council Trust. “We congratulate the team, which is led by retired Judge Zac Yacoob, as chairperson,” added Zuma.