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Samj South African Medical Journal ; 112(3):240-244, 2022.
Article in English | Web of Science | ID: covidwho-1761104


Y Background. South Africa (SA) has embarked on a process to implement universal health coverage (UHC) funded by National Health Insurance (NHI). The 2019 NHI Bill proposes creation of a health technology assessment (HTA) body to inform decisions about which interventions NHI funds will cover under UHC. In practice, HTA often relies mainly on economic evaluations of cost-effectiveness and budget impact, with less attention to the systematic, specific consideration of important social, organisational and ethical impacts of the health technology in question. In this context, the South African Values and Ethics for Universal Health Coverage (SAVE-UHC) research project recognised an opportunity to help shape the health priority-setting process by providing a way to take account of multiple, ethically relevant considerations that reflect SA values. The SAVE-UHC Research Team developed and tested an SA-specific Ethics Framework for HTA assessment and analysis. Objectives. To develop and test an Ethics Framework for use in the SA context for health priority-setting. Methods. The Framework was developed iteratively by the authors and a multidisciplinary panel (18 participants) over a period of 18 months, using the principles outlined in the 2015 NHI White Paper as a starting point. The provisional Ethics Framework was then tested with multi-stakeholder simulated appraisal committees (SACs) in three provinces. The membership of each SAC roughly reflected the composition of a potential SA HTA committee. The deliberations and dedicated focus group discussions after each SAC meeting were recorded, analysed and used to refine the Framework, which was presented to the Working Group for review, comment and final approval. Results. This article describes the 12 domains of the Framework. The first four (Burden of the Health Condition, Expected Health Benefits and Harms, Cost-Effectiveness Analysis, and Budget Impact) are commonly used in HTA assessments, and a further eight cover the other ethical domains. These are Equity, Respect and Dignity, Impacts on Personal Financial Situation, Forming and Maintaining Important Personal Relationships, Ease of Suffering, Impact on Safety and Security, Solidarity and Social Cohesion, and Systems Factors and Constraints. In each domain are questions and prompts to enable use of the Framework by both analysts and assessors. Issues that arose, such as weighting of the domains and the availability of SA evidence, were discussed by the SACs. Conclusions. The Ethics Framework is intended for use in priority-setting within an HTA process. The Framework was well accepted by a diverse group of stakeholders. The final version will be a useful tool not only for HTA and other priority-setting processes in SA, but also for future efforts to create HTA methods in SA and elsewhere.

South African Medical Journal ; 111(6):554-558, 2021.
Article in English | EMBASE | ID: covidwho-1264648


Access to COVID-19 vaccines has raised concerns globally. Despite calls for solidarity and social justice during the pandemic, vaccine nationalism, stockpiling of limited vaccine supplies by high-income countries and profit-driven strategies of global pharmaceutical manufacturers have brought into sharp focus global health inequities and the plight of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as they wait in line for restricted tranches of vaccines. Even in high-income countries that received vaccine supplies first, vaccine roll-out globally has been fraught with logistic and ethical challenges. South Africa (SA) is no exception. Flawed global institutional strategies for vaccine distribution and delivery have undermined public procurement platforms, leaving LMICs facing disproportionate shortages necessitating strict criteria for vaccine prioritisation. In anticipation of our first consignment of vaccines, deliberations around phase 1 roll-out were intense and contentious. Although the first phase focuses on healthcare personnel (HCP), the devil is in the detail. Navigating the granularity of prioritising different categories of risk in healthcare sectors in SA is complicated by definitions of risk in personal and occupational contexts. The inequitable public-private divide that characterises the SA health system adds another layer of complexity. Unlike other therapeutic or preventive interventions that are procured independently by the private health sector, COVID-19 vaccine procurement is currently limited to the SA government only, leaving HCP in the private sector dependent on central government allocation. Fair distribution among tertiary, secondary and primary levels of care is another consideration. Taking all these complexities into account, procedural and substantive ethical principles supporting a prioritisation approach are outlined. Within the constraints of suboptimal global health governance, LMICs must optimise progressive distribution of scarce vaccines to HCP at highest risk.

S Afr Med J ; 110(6): 456-457, 2020 04 23.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-478287


In the midst of an unprecedented public health crisis, extraordinary containment measures must be implemented. These include both isolation and quarantine, either on a voluntary basis or enforced. In the transition from voluntary to mandatory isolation, conflicts arise at the intersection of ethics, human rights and the law. The Siracusa Principles adopted by the United Nations Economic and Social Council in 1985 and enshrined in international human rights legislation and guidelines specify conditions under which civil liberties may be infringed. In order for isolation processes in South Africa to claim legitimacy, it is important that these principles as well as national laws and constitutional rights are embedded in state action.

Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Human Rights/legislation & jurisprudence , Pandemics/prevention & control , Patient Isolation/legislation & jurisprudence , Pneumonia, Viral/prevention & control , Quarantine/legislation & jurisprudence , COVID-19 , Coronavirus Infections/epidemiology , Ethics, Medical , Humans , Pandemics/ethics , Pneumonia, Viral/epidemiology , Public Health , South Africa/epidemiology