Gauteng Health to increase patients on ART

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Health Department is to increase the number of patients it has on Anti-Retroviral Treatment as well as open three additional health facilities by the end of April to expand its ART programme.

Speaking on Wednesday, Gauteng MEC for Health Brian Hlongwa said the number of patients on treatment would be increased to 200 000 from 65 health facilities, which were currently providing treatment in the province since 2004.

Mr Hlongwa said since 2004, more than 165 000 people were on ART of whom 14 500 were children.

He said that in order to improve the Tuberculosis (TB) rate, the department would also increase the number of HIV positive patients who will be screened for Tuberculosis (TB).

"We have improved the TB cure rate from 64 percent in 2004 to 75 percent, even though we still fall short of the national target, this is a significant improvement," Mr Hlongwa said.

He also announced that 13 more Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities will extend their hours of service by July 2009, adding that the last four Community Health Centres will be opened in the next few weeks at Eersterus, Soweto, Ekangala and Sebokeng.

"Since 2004, 79 PHC Community Health Centres and clinics have extended their hours of service and 78 of these now render services on Saturdays," he said, adding that these also included 17 Community Health Centres, which operate for 24 hours per day.

He said, however, one of the challenges facing the department was to ensure that the public made use of the PHC instead of hospitals, hence a need to strengthen District Health Services and instil confidence in the services rendered at clinics based in the communities.

"In order to ensure that our people do not by-pass clinics and present themselves at hospitals, we need to do more work to encourage people to use them [PHC] by improving the services provided there including working hours," he said.

To improve services at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Mr Hlongwa said the department was on course to open a new Accident and Emergency Unit with a new unit being completed at Sebokeng.

He also announced the re-opening of two nursing colleges in Bona-Lesedi at Leratong Hospital and Rahima Moosa Nursing College.

The MEC further said that 429 nursing students will be enrolled at the Bona-Lesedi Nursing College this year, while 220 post basic nursing students will be enrolled at the Rahima Moosa Nursing College.

The building of the Jabulani and Natalspruit Hospitals would continue, he said, adding that 200 old lifts in Gauteng hospitals and government buildings are expected to be replaced by the end of the year.