While South Africa still continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, there are other diseases that plague the country – namely HIV/AIDS and Tuberculosis (TB). It is these two diseases in particular which raised concerns over the country’s ability to fight the spread of COVID-19, especially as the coronavirus was found to severely impact those with pre-existing conditions.

We bring this up as Deputy President David Mabuza recently addressed any concerns that funding for COVID-19 was potentially diverting any funds away from resources used in combating those two diseases.

The question was posed to Mabuza during a media briefing earlier this week, and he offered up a rather interesting response.

“The provincial departments of health have started experimenting with combining TB and COVID-19 screening at some of their locations in the districts, in order to ensure continuity of services,” explained Mabuza.

“By offering HIV self-screening at COVID-19 screening sites, the Department of Health is able to reach people who would otherwise be missed by their standard HIV programmes,” he added.

While this appears to be in the experimental stage, with it remaining to be seen whether all provinces and COVID-19 testing sites implement such functionality, it is a rather savvy way of making more screening facilities available to South Africans in our opinion.

“Community health workers across the country, are screening for the Coronavirus whilst conducting their normal door-to-door HIV and TB monitoring work, such as ensuring that patients are taking their antiretroviral medicines,” added the deputy president.

“However, this reprioritisation of resources to respond to COVID-19 did not mean diverting resources away from HIV and TB,” he concluded.

With government spending and allocation fo resources during the global pandemic and lockdown coming under an even higher degree of scrutiny of late, it should prove interesting to see whether the aforementioned experiment can help in better tracking both HIV and TB in the country.

[Image – Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash]