My colleagues and I often care for patients suffering from hallucinations, prophesying, and claiming to speak with God, among other symptoms—in mental health care, it’s sometimes very difficult to tell apart religious belief from mental illness…. Our conclusions frequently stem from the behaviors we see before us. Take an example of a man who walks into an emergency department, mumbling incoherently. He says he’s hearing voices in his head, but insists there’s nothing wrong with him. He hasn’t used any drugs or alcohol. If he were to be evaluated by mental health professionals, there’s a good chance he might be diagnosed with a psychotic disorder like schizophrenia. But what if that same man were deeply religious? What if his incomprehensible language was speaking in tongues?
The MRC’s Rapid Mortality Surveillance report shows that life expectancy rose 6% between 2009 and last year, from 56.5 to 60 years, reversing the downward trend that began in the 1990s as the HIV epidemic grew rapidly. Between 2009 and last year the infant mortality rate fell 25%, from 40 deaths per 1,000 live births to 30 per 1,000, and the mortality rate for those under five dropped at the same rate, from 56 per 1,000 to 42 per 1,000 over the same period. These statistics were seized upon by African National Congress secretary-general Gwede Mantashe last week to attack Mr Mbeki after the former president delivered a speech at Fort Hare University criticising South Africa’s political leadership. Mr Mantashe was notably silent about the fact that many senior ANC figures who remain in government today did little or nothing to challenge Mr Mbeki’s HIV/AIDS policies when he was president. – Tamar Kahn in BUsiness DayBACK TO TOP