‘Call me Tumi’: Meet the young woman who heads SA’s medicines regulator

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Boitumelo Semete-Makokotlela leads the country’s medicines regulator, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra), a public entity few people knew about until the COVID-19 pandemic hit. COVID triggered a noisy scramble for vaccines, tests and treatments that needed to be approved — often embroiled in politics.

Dirty Sprite: The DIY high that keeps SA schoolchildren numb

Codeine is found in mild painkillers and cough syrups, and is sometimes mixed with Sprite or alcohol to make a drink called “lean”.

Naeemah Abrahams and the secret to defeating evil – do something

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In the hospitals of 1980s South Africa, Naeemah Abrahams saw how often women showed up battered and bruised, a phenomenon her colleagues didn’t make much of. Three decades later, she’s one of the researchers turning the tide on gender-based violence.

SA’s moonlight sonata: The illegal cash cow draining specialist care at state hospitals

Specialist doctors at many state facilities aren’t showing up to work despite earning millions of rands a year in taxpayer money. The consequences for patient health can be devastating but not everyone agrees on the solutions.

Tongues & other taboos: Why queer sex ed is good for everyone

Lesbian teenagers have a lower chance of getting a sexually transmitted infection, but the threat remains. Even though South Africa’s sex education curriculum includes all the right lessons to help pupils of all sexual identities have safe sex in theory, the information that filters through to them is still up to individual teachers.

“I thought it’s just what fathers do.” How sex ed can tackle child abuse

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Thousands of children are abused by someone close to them but are unable to report it, because they’re either too scared or don’t realise they’re being abused. Here’s how training teachers to provide proper sex education can help them.

Kids are having sex. We need to help teen moms, not punish them

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Otlotleng Moolikwe fell pregnant after having sex with her boyfriend when she was 13 years old. And she’s not the only one. One in six South African teenagers between 15 and 19 years old have had a child. Here’s how to help them stay in school.

Hell is 16 000 unanswered telephones. The low tech problem blocking abortions

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Abortion services only got a national “how to” document for doctors 23 years after termination of pregnancy was legalised in South Africa. And while the new rules go a long way to remove barriers to ending a pregnancy, non-profits say crucial information such as a simple list of telephone numbers is still lacking.

Need an abortion? Find clinics you can trust here

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This database shows you where you can find safe family planning services near you. It’s verified two to four times a year by a dedicated team of data capturers and ‘secret shopper’ callers.

Farmers vs. pharmacists: How South Africa’s ivermectin use slips through the cracks

There’s less demand for human ivermectin in South Africa when the country is in between COVID waves. But nobody is tracking how many people may be using the animal formulation.

What it’s like to be hospitalised and diabetic: ‘Vaccination saved my life’

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Karyn Maughan lives with diabetes and was partially vaccinated when she contracted the virus that causes COVID-19. But because of vaccination she survived the illness — unlike two of her unvaccinated colleagues, who also had diabetes, and died.

‘If men are these monsters’: Life in the fray of SA’s gender-based violence projects

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South Africa is rushing to roll out its first national gender-based violence action plan. But as bureaucracy and the coronavirus pandemic stall progress, violence against women continues unabated. And the hot spots that will receive extra resources, it seems, have been wrongly identified.

#SayHerName: The faces of South Africa’s femicide epidemic

This is an ode to the women whose names made it into news outlets between 2018 and 2020. It’s also a tribute to those who didn’t – the faceless, nameless women whose stories will remain untold. This project is a collaboration among Bhekisisa, Media Hack and the Canon Collins Trust.

Trials, tinsel & tango: Go inside Linda-Gail Bekker’s COVID world

Linda-Gail Bekker says researching infectious diseases such as COVID-19 and HIV is like a colossal round of the murder mystery cluedo. Follow the story of the scientist with the purple pixie-cut from a farm in Zimbabwe to her inauguration as the first African president of the International Aids Society and beyond.

[PHOTOS]: ‘We need staff, psychological help’: Go inside a Gauteng COVID ICU fighting the...

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Driven by a more infectious new COVID variant, the second wave of South Africa’s coronavirus pandemic has seen considerably more infections than the first wave. This meant health workers have had to deal with more hospitalisations and deaths — and pressure. Bhekisisa visited George Mukhari Academic Hospital north of Tshwane to document the second wave realities experienced by doctors and nurses.

‘Where the governments see statistics, I see the faces of my friends’

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Yvette Raphael describes herself as a ‘professional protester, sjambok feminist and hater of trash’. Government officials would likely refer to her as ‘a rebel’. She’s fought for equality her entire life, she says. And she’s scared of no one.