Gauteng puts strong focus on primary health care

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development is all set this financial year to strengthen the primary health care system in the province.

Gauteng MEC for Health and Social Development Qedani Mahlangu said the department will establish health posts in each district aiming to introduce a primary health care system in 50 poorest wards in 20 priority townships.

"Family doctors will be employed in the voting districts and integrated in working teams with community health workers and primary health care nurses to take services into communities," Mahlangu said.

The health workers will work in clinics to enable them to understand the burden of the disease in the catchment areas they serve, improve follow up of patients, ensuring community and stakeholder participation as well as optimal use of limited resources.

Mahlangu explained that through the health care system, the health workers, including volunteers, will make sure that the health status of the community is known and if there is a terminal ill person, they can be referred to the relevant institution like the hospice to get urgent attention.

In improving the quality of health care, the department will over the next three months introduce a SMS system to remind patients of their appointment dates.

Mahlangu said failure of patients to attend appointments caused delays and files had to be retrieved again while other patients were already in the queue.

"Queue marshals have been recruited and trained to assist and direct patients to health care points during their scheduled appointments."

The system will first be rolled out at the Steve Biko, Natalspruit and Edendale Hospitals and extended to other facilities as from 1 April 2010.

However, Mahlangu noted that the success of the system will only work if patients collaborate with the department by presenting themselves to hospitals on the dates they are scheduled to see a doctor.

Meanwhile, the department has warned employees from health facilities to return stolen goods from the hospitals to avoid being arrested.

Mahlangu said a number of items including linen and food were stolen from hospitals by employees working with syndicates.

"We will make sure that every institution has designated people to manage the cleaning and counting of linen, let's embark on Operation Buyisa to recover items stolen from health facilities and return stolen items.

"I'm appealing to all employees to stop stealing from the poor because shortage of essential equipment, especially linen, is partly due to theft," Mahlangu said.