South Africa

New MXit CEO Lays Out Strategy

Social networking site, Mxit, plans to focus on its core competencies, and open the platform to third parties to develop content for its users.

In his first briefing with the media since buying Mxit, chief executive officer, Alan Knott-Craig jnr, says that the company will focus on communication, payments and content.

According to Knott-Craig, the company, which has over 50 million registered users and about 35 000 new registrations daily, points “We create the platform, and let people make money. We'll just stick to what we're good at."

SA Environment Deteriorates – Study

South Africa's natural environment has, over the past 20 years, deteriorated nearly the fastest of most countries in the world, according to a report in the Beeld newspaper.

This is the finding of a group of scientists at the universities of Yale and Columbia, in the United States, who measured the state of the environment in 132 countries, in collaboration with the World Economic Forum.

SA Universities Train Few Doctors

The shortage of doctors is ham-stringing the health services but medical schools are turning away thousands of aspirant medical practitioners each year.

Ranked among the top 500 universities in the world, the University of KwaZulu-Natal's Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine rejected 5 290 applications this year because it could accommodate only 210 first-year students.

The universities of – the Witwatersrand, Medical University of South Africa, Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Pretoria, Walter Sisulu and the Free State - have turned down thousands of applications.

Child-Bearing Women Affected by HIV

The South African Institute of Race Relations (SAIRR) says that half of the 5.58 million people living with HIV in South Africa are women of child-bearing age.

In its latest survey, the organisation notes that of the 11 percent of the population infected, five million are adults aged 20 to 64, and 2.93 million are women of child-bearing age between the ages of 15 and 49.

The survey also found that the majority of HIV-infected people live in KwaZulu-Natal (15 percent), followed by the Free State, Mpumalanga, and the North West, with 13 percent each.

New HIV Drugs Partnership Announced

The South African government has announced a joint venture to reduce the cost of anti-retroviral drugs with a Swiss company.

Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, points out that, the joint venture will establish the first pharmaceutical plant to manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients [APIs] for anti-retroviral medicines in the country.

Pandor says that the purpose of producing the APIs locally is to try and reduce the cost of drugs to combat HIV that causes AIDS.

Govt Explains Delay in Funding NGOs

The Department of Health says that the delay in funding, which has resulted in lay-offs at NGOs fighting HIV/AIDS, are out of its control.

The department spokesperson, Fidel Hadebe, says that they are taking the matter very seriously but much of the blame lies with the Global Fund secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland.

Hadebe maintains that until the Global Fund has been able to deal with process issues on its part, the department will not be able to disperse any funds.

TAC Ready to Litigate Against Govt

The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has announced that it is ready to litigate against the Gauteng Health Department should it not clear its outstanding debt to suppliers by the end of this week.

TAC also adds that the closure of health laboratories in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal has severely impacted on people who are HIV-positive and those with tuberculosis (TB).

TAC chairperson, Nonkosi Khumalo, says that the closure of health laboratory services impacts on patients on Anti-retroviral treatment (ARVs) and those who need to be tested for tuberculosis (TB).

South Africa to Host Malaria Conference

Durban will host the 6th Multilateral Initiative Conference on Malaria in 2013.

The conference, which is the world's largest gathering of the malaria community, will be attended by researchers, public health officials and policy makers to discuss developments in the treatment of malaria.

Medical Research Council’s Dr Jayshree Raman, says that the event is going to focus on the issue of elimination and the possible vaccine that is going to be released, hoping sometime soon.

NLB Honours Grant After Court Action

The National Lotteries Board (NLB) has agreed to honour a R20.4 million grant it had previously withdrawn, less than a week after court papers were filed with the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria.

According to Adams & Adams, the law firm, this week, the NLB ‘acted swiftly’ in responding to proceedings instituted by NGO, Molteno Language and Literacy Institute.

The organisation had its grant withdrawn last year, barely a month after it was awarded.

Parliament Under Press Over CGE Nominations

Pressure is mounting on Parliament to reconsider the selection of commissioners for the Commission for Gender Equality (CGE).

The Democratic Alliance says it will write to the speaker of Parliament, Max Sisulu, to request that the ad hoc committee tasked with filling positions on the commission reconvene and reconsider its nomination of Janine Hicks and Ndileka Loyilane as commissioners.

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