Health stakeholders applaud MTBPS

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pretoria - Health stakeholders have applauded Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's allocation to health services in his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).

Tabling his first MTBPS on Tuesday, the minister said public health expenditure was set to rise from R90 billion this year to R115 billion in 2012/13 and an additional R5.4 billion would be allocated to government's HIV and AIDS programme over the next three years.

Gordhan also announced that the Public Private Partnerships in the health sector will be stepped up and a new quality assurance system will monitor service delivery improvement and compliance norms and standards.

Speaking to BuaNews on Wednesday, President of the Medical Research Council Professor Anthony Mbewu described the budget as brilliant. "It represents our social and economic needs," he said.

He welcomed the new quality assurance system, which will monitor service delivery improvement, saying that it would ensure that funds are used effectively.

"Monitoring of service delivery is very important, it will ensure that we deliver quality health services for all South Africans," Professor Mbewu said.

Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) President, Ephraim Phahlane Mafalo said the increase in allocations was significant and unexpected considering the country's economic climate.

"We didn't expect that much, as a health worker, this shows government's commitment to focus on health. I'm satisfied with the additional amount and believe that if it wasn't for the economic recession, we would have got much more," said Mafalo.

He added that the minister had done his utmost best, under the circumstances

As the health sector is facing many challenges, the Department of Health should prioritise on how the money would be spend.

"No amount of money made available can address all the challenges in the health sector, even if the money was more that this, we would still be crying.

"The department should focus on Human Resource development, training of more health workers and intensifying HIV and AIDS programmes," Mafalo told BuaNews.

A new occupation specific salary dispensation for medical workers, introduced in 2007, is to be phased in over a three-year period. The salary scale will help the public sector attract and retain skilled professionals.