Gauteng makes strides in fighting poverty, improving health

Monday, September 7, 2009

Johannesburg - The Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development has made significant strides in the fight against poverty and in improving the health of people in the province.

The department's MEC Qedani Mahlangu said that since the beginning of its term in this financial year, the department has worked hard in ensuring that the health status of the people of Gauteng is improved and that poverty is reduced.

"Basket of services which include, social grants, free health care, food security, free scholar transport and indigent burial, have been implemented has been into 2000 of the profiled households," she said.

With regard to the War on Poverty programme and targeting vulnerable groups, the department has profiled about 3 000 households in Ratanda and Sedibeng with a view of determining their indigence status.

This data base will be shared with local municipalities for inclusion in their indigent register, and possibly the South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) as well as linking them to existing poverty alleviation programmes.

MEC Mahlangu avowed that similar profiling is underway in local municipalities such as Westonaria, Merafong, Emfuleni, Randfontein and Mogale City.

"The focus on these district municipalities is aimed at ensuring that even those who reside in district municipalities benefit from our poverty alleviation interventions. It is planned that a total of 10 000 households will be reached through this profiling," she said.

The department has also made significant progress on programmes supporting vulnerable children by registering 155 Early Childhood Development Centres (ECDs), for funding, with more than 6 490 children as beneficiaries.

This is in addition to 520 ECDs that the department are funding and a further 152 previously unregistered home based ECDs have been registered.

"We have completed three ECD facilities in Soshanguve, Garankuwa and Refilwe," she said.

In protecting the rights of older persons and providing services to them, the department has expanded services and care geared to older persons in the previously disadvantaged areas.

The department has provided funding to 48 services centres, servicing 8687 older persons, it is also constructing a new old age home in Mohlakeng on the West Rand.

Regarding health services, the department has recently launched Operation Kuyasheshwa- La; in order to stabilise delivery of health services at provincial hospitals and clinics.

MEC Mahlangu also affirmed that in an effort to advance services, the department has set aside R168 million to fund medical equipments for the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, while R80 million will be spent on purchasing equipment for the new Mamelodi Hospital.

As part of saving costs the department will stop the usage of private ambulances and has already taken delivery of 115 ambulances, 15 rapid response vehicles, 6 planned patient transport vehicles and 6 disaster buses

She said in line with its commitments, the department has already appointed full time managers at all districts to coordinate health services delivery.

"Since the beginning of April this year, we have employed 1178 nurses of different categories. This has gone a long way towards relieving work load from our overstretched health professionals.

"As I speak, 205 414 people are on Anti-Retroviral treatment. This is an increase from 185 126 as at the end of the previous financial year," the MEC said.

She added that the department has drastically reduced drugs stock out at hospitals and clinics. "We have moved from 90 to 95 percents drug stock in all our hospitals and clinics," she said.