oa South African Health Review - Maternal, newborn and child health : 30 years on : Primary Health Care : programme areas

Volume 2008 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1025-1715



Since the Alma Ata Declaration on Primary Health Care, South Africa has striven, in particular, to promote the health of women and children. As the world focuses on the Millennium Development Goals of 2015, achievements resulting from efforts in this area over the past 30 years are recognised, while lessons learned are identified where necessary. There have been several successes in maternal, child and women's health and nutrition, including: free access to Primary Health Care; free health care to pregnant and lactating women and to children under the age of six; prevention of vertical transmission of HIV; high immunisation coverage rate due to the Expanded Programme on Immunisation; eradication of deaths due to polio and measles; and implementation of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act and the Primary School Nutrition Programme. Furthermore, diarrhoeal diseases have diminished, respiratory infections have become manageable and common foods have been fortified with micronutrients. On the other hand, challenges include a shortage of health care workers, poverty and HIV infection. Although efforts in these areas need to be increased, the impact of HIV has been of such a magnitude that it is unlikely that the Millennium Development Goals for maternal and child mortality will be met by 2015. Recommendations made in this chapter aim to increase efforts in maternal, newborn, child and women's health, and to address issues such as violence against women and children.

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