Article originally published on Daily Maverick
Thousands of South Africans are avoiding health facilities, shunning life-saving treatment out of fear of being infected by Covid-19 and being harassed by police.
Even mobile clinics that provide HIV, TB and contraceptive services have reported a huge drop in clients – possibly because all health services are being associated with Covid-19.
“Headcounts at some Johannesburg clinics are down by between 30% and 70%,” says Professor Francois Venter, an infectious diseases doctor at Wits University’s Faculty of Health Sciences.
“These clinics are delivering absolutely essential services. We are going to spend the next six months cleaning up this catastrophe – the lack of contraception leading to unintended pregnancies and increased demand for terminations, diseases from lack of immunisations, untreated diabetes. We are likely to see a wave of mortality linked to HIV and TB. The HIV and TB programmes have been doing well and we could lose all that progress,” adds Venter, who is also a member of the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Covid-19.