Department of Health, trade union welcome Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as new Minister 

Monday, July 1, 2024

The Department of Health has welcomed Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as their new Minister and his Deputy, Dr Joe Phaahla, as part of the newly established seventh democratic administration to move South Africa forward.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa appointed Motsoaledi as the Minister of Health when he was announcing the Government of National Unity (GNU) Cabinet.

Motsoaledi replaces Phaahla, who has served in the portfolio since August 2021.

However, Motsoaledi is no stranger to the department, having previously served as the Minister from 2009 to 2019. 

“The department believes the return of both political principals will ensure continuity and stability in the implementation of key health priorities, which include increasing life expectancy, strengthening health system effectiveness and the National Health Insurance (NHI) to enable the country to attain universal health coverage,”  the department said. 

The department took the time to also thank the outgoing Deputy Minister, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, for his “sterling” work, which accelerated access to sexual and reproductive health services. 

Dhlomo has been praised for establishing youth-friendly zones in primary health facilities to create a conducive environment to access essential health services without standing in queue with the general customers. 

“He also championed the healthy lifestyle programme to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and so on," the department said. 

It said it was looking forward to the leadership of both Motsoaledi and Phaahla to lead the health sector, guided by policies and legislations to ensure equal access to quality and affordable healthcare services for all South Africans to achieve universal health coverage. 

Meanwhile, the South African Medical Association Trade Union (Samatu) has also welcomed Motsoaledi following his appointment. 

The union has described the Minister as someone with proven dedication and extensive experience in the healthcare sector. 

“Minister Motsoaledi has a commendable track record of addressing critical health challenges and implementing significant reforms to improve the health of all South Africans.

“Samatu is confident that Minister Motsoaledi's deep understanding of the South African healthcare landscape will prove invaluable as we embark on the rollout of the NHI, which aims to provide universal health coverage and ensure that all South Africans, regardless of their socio-economic status, have access to quality health services,” the statement read. 

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The trade union believes that Motsoaledi possesses the vision, commitment, and expertise needed to implement the NHI successfully. 

“His reappointment comes at a crucial time when the NHI’s foundational structures are being established, and his leadership will be instrumental in ascertaining that this transformative healthcare reform is realised seamlessly and effectively.” 

The union has since pledged its full support to Motsoaledi and said it was looking forward to working collaboratively with his office. 

“We are committed to advancing the health and well-being of all South Africans, addressing the inequalities in healthcare access, and building a robust healthcare system that serves everyone proficiently. 

“We call upon all stakeholders in the healthcare sector to unite behind Minister Motsoaledi’s leadership and contribute positively towards improving healthcare services in our country. This collective effort will be pivotal in enhancing our nation's public health and achieving the vision of a healthier South Africa.”

Samatu is a voluntary, independent, and non-discriminatory trade union for medical doctors and offers labour relations and bargaining services. –