AIDS has caused a fall in life expectancy. According to the South African Institute of Race Relations, the life expectancy in 2009 was 71 years for a white South African and 48 years for a black South African. The healthcare spending in the country is about 9% of GDP.
Only 16% of the population is covered by medical schemes. About 20% use private healthcare. The rest pay “out of pocket” or through hospital cash plans. The three dominant hospital groups, Mediclinic, Life Healthcare and Netcare, together control 75% of the market. About 84% of the population depend on the public healthcare system, which is beset with chronic human resource shortages and limited resources.
South Africa is home to the third largest hospital in the world, the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
HIV/AIDS in South Africa
According to the 2015 UNAIDS Report, South Africa has an estimated 7 million people living with HIV – more than any other country in the world. A 2008 study revealed that HIV/AIDS infection in South Africa is distinctly divided along racial lines: 13.6% of blacks are HIV-positive, whereas only 0.3% of whites have the disease. Most deaths are experienced by economically active individuals, resulting in many AIDS orphans who in many cases depend on the state for care and financial support. It is estimated that there are 1,200,000 orphans in South Africa.
The link between HIV, a virus spread primarily by sexual contact, and AIDS was long denied by prior president Thabo Mbeki and then health minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who insisted that the many deaths in the country are due to malnutrition, and hence poverty, and not HIV. In 2007, in response to international pressure, the government made efforts to fight AIDS. After the 2009 General Elections, President Jacob Zuma appointed Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as the new minister and committed his government to increasing funding for and widening the scope of AIDS treatment.