Pretoria - Newly appointed Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has outlined the key priorities his department is to give special attention to.
Financial management, information technology, infrastructure services and human resource management and development have been identified as the main points of focus.
Minister Motsoaledi said on Monday the four challenges were the main areas of weaknesses in the department - and all could be traced back to somewhere within the health system.
"Whether it is a municipality, provincial government or national government throughout any government department, these are the main challenges that led to problems, protests and various forms of discontent pointing to several weaknesses in government.
"From the briefing I have received, I have come to the conclusion that these four areas should be the main points of focus with the department, but in addition and as different from all other departments, I would like to add quality of care," Dr Motsoaledi said.
He said his department would launch the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) Acceleration Plan within the next two weeks,
The plan would take the country further in achieving the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) which speak to maternal mortality, infant mortality and combating HIV and AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis, among others, an area he said the country was lagging behind in.
"If we don't do something drastic; we won't meet the MDGs. We are lagging behind, hence we need to change and accelerate the PMTCT Plan," Dr Motsoaledi said.
He further announced that within the next two weeks, the department will deal with norms and standards between the national, provincial and district health system.
"This is to curb the tendency of a federal approach towards the health system, which has slowly but surely crept into the system," he said.
On the issue of overspending by provincial health departments, Dr Motsoaledi said he will come up with cost containment.
"We will endeavor to do this without compromising the Quality of Care and Services due to the public," he noted.
Regarding under-performing provincial departments, Dr Motsoaledi explained that while he was allowed to set norms and standards, if the health system in a certain provincial department was however collapsing, he was allowed to act and find ways to intervene.
He also noted the problems facing the South African Nursing Council, saying he will meet with relevant stakeholders to discuss the problem as the Council has been facing difficult experiences for a long time.