Baragwanath a symbol of hope - Zuma

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Soweto - Progress at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital gives hope the country is functioning well, says President Jacob Zuma.

Zuma, who was at the hospital as part of the service delivery monitoring visit on Tuesday, said he was very pleased about the hospital's improvements as well as the dedication from staff members.

"What has struck me most is the style of management. It leaves one with a good feeling ... this is wonderful," said Zuma, who was accompanied by Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and Health and Social Development MEC Qedani Mahlangu.

Zuma said his administration had identified health as one of its five key priorities over the next five years.

Baragwanath is the largest acute hospital in the country with a staff compliment of over 6 700 people of which more than 600 are doctors with over 2 000 nurses. It is the only public hospital serving approximately 3.5 million people in Soweto alone.

But, most often patients are complaining about poor conditions, shortage of doctors and lack of medication. In 2007, the hospital made headlines following reports that three babies were placed in a cardboard box instead of cribs.

Earlier in the day, the hospital came to a standstill as patients and staff pushed to catch a glimpse of the President who was taking a tour around the hospital.

Surrounded by bodyguards, Zuma made his way from Ward 38 to the hospital's Trauma Unit. He also visited the neonatal ward, where baby Ashleigh Louw, who was born with a section of her heart outside her chest, was operated.

Motsoaledi said the hospital, which is the government's flagship public-private partnership (PPP), is likely to be more than just a hospital when the project is completed.

He said progress at the hospital was just the beginning. More work was needed to get it to where the government wanted it to be.

Government, he said, would use the PPP model to revitalise other public hospitals.

Other hospitals that are also being considered for PPPs are George Mkhari, Polokwane Academic Complexes and King Edward Hospital in Durban.