oa South African Health Review - Chronic conditions in children : child health
Many South African children suffer from a chronic condition that requires ongoing care. The most prevalent of these conditions are congenital heart disease, neurological problems and HIV. In urban areas asthma affects more than 10% of children. The sequelae of poor perinatal care, poverty and poorly managed infections cause disability and place a high toll on rural families. In addition, a wide range of congenital conditions that affect children globally affect South African children as well. Diseases of lifestyle, previously mainly affecting adults, are now more prevalent as almost 20% of South African urban children are overweight. SA has the challenge of improving perinatal care, paediatric and child health services, controlling over and under-nutrition and decreasing poverty in order to prevent chronic conditions. The establishment of a family based multidisciplinary service for children with long term illness is a priority. The nature and scope of the service is outlined in the 2002 Policy framework for non-Communicable Chronic Conditions in Children. Excellent specialised services exist in pockets in the country; however, these services are inequitably distributed. for many conditions, children from rural areas are much less likely than their urban counterparts to access specialised care, and thus will inevitably have a poorer outcome and quality of life. Ensuring equity in provision of service, and establishing good family based care for children throughout South Africa will require innovation and commitment. Centres of excellence that provide care should be maintained and provided with resources to service the region. NGOs, patient-provider organisations and specialist working groups are encouraged to continue and extend the role they play in advocacy and support for service development and best practices.
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