The Hillbrow HIV/Aids Clinic is a successful private-public partnership that treats 22 000 patients with Antiretroviral medication.
This is my assessment after my visit there yesterday to see how they were coping with a high volume of patients.
It is a government clinic that is assisted by the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) which has refurbished the clinic and provides extra funds where needed.
Their main challenge is follow-up to ensure that patients do not interrupt ARV treatment, which can lead to resistance.
I was astounded to find that more than 60% of their patients are foreigners, many of whom do not even live in South Africa but come to access medicines.
The clinic only requires that they give an address and an ID of some kind as they are constitutionally required to treat them.
Most of the foreign patients are Zimbabweans and give a Hillbrow address which is hard to check.
I sympathize with Premier David Makhura who is attempting to get foreign embassies to pay for medical treatment of their citizens, but I suspect this will be difficult to enforce.
According to Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, foreigners make up between 15% and 35% of patients at Gauteng hospitals, but the National Treasury only allocates funds based on the local population.
I support the provincial government’s efforts to get more funds to deal with the real numbers of patients treated by public health facilities in Gauteng.