Prevention is much better than cure
The Scheme makes specific provision for a range of screening tests and vaccine, so why not invest in your health by using these?
Screening: flu vaccine
If you have a weak immune system, you may need the flu vaccine. Common signs of a weak immune system may include recurrent infections like the flu. Those who may be most at risk include people over the age of 65, smokers and cancer patients.
Screening: pneumococcal vaccine
Children under the age of five may have a higher risk of fatal pneumonia and other pneumococcal diseases, including meningitis and sepsis. Other at-risk groups include patients with poor functioning of the spleen (e.g. those with sickle cell disease), patients without a spleen, transplant patients, patients with chronic kidney disease and immunosuppressed patients who may be at higher risk of serious infection. Routine re-vaccination is not always recommended and re-vaccination may only be medically necessary in some groups of patients. Vaccination may be recommended for those 18 years and older, and may be repeated every five years.
Screening: high blood pressure (hypertension)
High blood pressure can be a problem especially if you are overweight; have a family history of high blood pressure; use certain drugs; take appetite-suppressant medication or have heart and lung diseases, liver disease, HIV infection, or blood clots in the pulmonary arteries. If you have any of these risk factors, you should have your blood pressure checked.
Screening: high blood glucose (diabetes)
Obesity, a poor diet, an inactive lifestyle, resistance to insulin, certain ethnic groups (e.g. Indians) and a family history of diabetes are all risk factors for diabetes and glucose-related diseases. If you have any of these risk factors, you should have your blood glucose checked.
High cholesterol may be caused by hereditary factors, age (the older you are, the greater your risk), gender (women have a higher risk after menopause), an unhealthy diet, and being overweight.
If you are sexually active (this includes oral sex, exposure to semen and other body fluids), it is advisable to be tested for HIV, as this virus may be sexually transmitted. Remember, there are several other ways you could get infected with HIV apart from sexual transmission, including the use of infected blood, blood products and needle stick injuries.
Screening: cervical cancer
In South Africa, cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. It is therefore very important to have regular Pap smear tests done. This test examines cells collected from the cervix, and is able to detect early signs of cancer.
Screening: breast cancer
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women – in South Africa and globally. Early detection is very important, thus breast cancer screening mammograms should be performed, as appropriate.
Screening: prostate cancer
More South African men are affected by prostate cancer than any other cancer. Symptoms and signs may include difficulty, burning or pain on passing urine, blood in the urine, and loss of bladder control.