Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Poor Jo'

Nearly half of the people in major townships across Johannesburg do not have access to proper food, an agricultural expert told a conference in Johannesburg.

“A recent survey showed that 42% of the population in Alexandra, Soweto, and Orange Farm were food insecure,” Florian Kroll, a food security researcher, said at a Health and Poverty Indaba. He also revealed that 97% of those who did not have proper nutrition were TB patients: “That’s a concern because we depend on food to be healthy.”

Another expert, Prof Laetitia Rispel, a professor at the centre for health policy at the school of public health at Wits University, said research also showed that HIV prevalence was almost double in urban informal settlements compared to urban formal areas in Johannesburg. Other statistics are that Joburg has a still-birth rate of 18 per 1 000 births and a tuberculosis cure rate of between 70 and 79 percent, which is below the target of 85 percent.

Life expectancy in South Africa is 45 and, according to Rispel, “it doesn’t compare well to other countries of similar income, such as Brazil”. Maternal and infant mortality rates are alarmingly high, and the maternal mortality rate increased between 2000 and 2005 from 230 to 400 per 1 000 births. Health and poverty went hand-in-hand. The head of social development in Gauteng, Bheki Sibeko explained poverty is the key cause of ill health and the people most affected by poverty are society’s most vulnerable: women, children, people with disabilities, the elderly and the youth. “Poverty is highest in women-headed, single-parent households,” he added.

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