Gauteng's public health getting better - Mokonyane

Monday, February 25, 2013

Johannesburg – Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane says the province's public health system is well on its way to recovery.

Mokonyane, delivering the State of the Province Address in the Legislature on Monday, said in 2009 the public health institutions was unsatisfactory.

“This was a result of a combination of factors, including the outsourcing of management functions that resulted in poor management of human and financial resources. We were also plagued by instances of maladministration, corruption and a blatant disregard for authority and rules that govern our public health institutions.”

She said to address the problems, high-level expertise was brought in to re-establish effective leadership in the Department of Health and initiate a comprehensive turnaround strategy.  “We focussed on restoring effective controls and systems and improving efficiencies, capacity and management in key areas.”

She said  particular attention was paid to the four central hospitals namely; the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital, Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital, Dr George Mukhari Hospital and Steve Biko Academic Hospital.

At Baragwanath Hospital medical and ICU wards have been refurbished and new lifts, chillers and boilers have been installed.  To ensure that theatres and other crucial functions are not affected by power outages, new generators are in place and permanent onsite maintenance officials have been appointed.  

Mokonyane said the long queues at the pharmacy have been addressed through interventions such as the distribution of chronic medicines at clinics closer to where patients live as well as extended pharmacy hours.

The province had introduced a Health Turnaround Strategy which had led to the availability of essential medicines at facilities from 40% to 78%.  “In the year ahead we aim to increase this to 98%,” said the premier.

Looking ahead, she said the medical supply depot was being reengineered and in the next financial year the province planned to start construction of a new Gauteng Medical Supply Depot. 

The province will also aim to reposition the Emergency Medical Services to improve response times and the quality of service. “We will add 100 new ambulances to the Gauteng ambulance fleet and 20 specialised Obstetric ambulances will be added to respond to obstetric emergencies," Mokonyane revealed.

There are also plans to reduce the pressure on clinics and hospitals in the province by the introduction of new clinics and hospitals - the Natalspruit and Zola Hospitals are close to completion, while the Zola Gateway Clinic has been completed.

The Mamelodi district hospital and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic hospital, Radiology, OPD Pharmacy and other specialised units are complete and commissioned, while the Germiston hospitalwas completed last year.

The province is also making strides in reducing the percentage of babies who die from preventable diseases through immunisation and HIV and Aids programmes.

"We have reached over four million people through HIV Counselling and Testing initiatives since 2011.  Of the estimated 1.2 million Gauteng residents who are HIV positive, close to 900 000 now have access to anti-retroviral therapy through the public health system; an exponential increase compared to just 75 000 on ART in 2006," said Mokonyane.

She also talked about the quality of education in Gauteng, saying the province had made interventions to improve the quality of learning and teaching in schools.

The province achieved an 83.9% overall matric pass rate last year.  Of these, 36% of learners obtained a Bachelors pass and 33.9% a Diploma pass that enables them to access FET and or University Tertiary Education

The government intended on maintaining and improving the standard of education in Gauteng. The provincial educational department had programmes that targeted learners assisting learners. Such is the use over 4000 homework assistants and sport assistants to work with learners in under-performing schools.

Improved school safety will be sustained, through partnerships with law enforcement agencies and the use of 4500 patrollers while efforts to ensure that no learner has to learn on an empty stomach, will continue through the free nutrition programme which covers over 1 million learners in no fee schools including secondary schools and provide free school uniforms to the poorest learners when they start school.

Mokonyane envisaged an increase in the number of learners in Grade R to 120 000. As the province aims to and train close to 2000 Grade R practitioners. -