Too many ill because of unhealthy living

The "overwhelming majority" of people arriving at Gauteng's clinics and hospitals sought treatment for conditions caused by unhealthy lifestyles, the province's health MEC, Brian Hlongwa, said yesterday.

The "overwhelming majority" of people arriving at Gauteng's clinics and hospitals sought treatment for conditions caused by unhealthy lifestyles, the province's health MEC, Brian Hlongwa, said yesterday.

"If we can change this, we will make a measurable impact on all facets of health care delivery, including maternal health, early childhood development, coronary heart disease, many forms of cancer and HIV and Aids," Hlongwa said.

He said too many people were seeking treatment for conditions that should have been detected and treated far sooner.

Long queues and waiting times at some clinics and hospitals were often due to patients going to the wrong place for treatment.

The provincial health system was under pressure from a rapidly growing number of patients, he said. Doctors and nurses worked under difficult circumstances and with limited resources.

"Many of our patients who suffer from minor ailments, or who are receiving treatment for chronic conditions, should be visiting primary health care facilities. Hospitals should only be visited by referred patients," said Hlongwa.

He said plans for overhauling the health system included moving staff and resources from hospitals to primary health care facilities.

Clinics would be open for longer so that people could seek diagnosis and treatment after work and at weekends.

Hlongwa said the province's rate of new HIV infections remained "alarmingly high" despite many educational advertising campaigns.

The advocating of voluntary counselling and testing would become a focus of the department's campaign.

The department planned to increase the number of HIV patients receiving antiretroviral drugs to 70 000 by March next year.

Hlongwa said too much time, effort and resources were spent on treatment instead of on prevention and health promotion.

Healthy living had for too long been seen as the exclusive preserve of the affluent.

"We want to see the people of Sandton continue going to gyms and recreational facilities - but we want to extend this a few hundred yards down the road into Alexandra.

"And we want to see this happening too in Diepkloof and Eersterus, and in Tembisa and in Diepsloot." - Sapa

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