The Presidential Health Summit is a watershed moment for the South African healthcare system, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Friday.
Motsoaledi addressed hundreds of delegates gathered at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg for the first day of the summit. Deputy President David Mabuza is expected to deliver the keynote address. Over the two days, delegates will be locked in various commissions relating to the industry.
Delegates will deliberate on and propose solutions to address the challenges facing the country’s health system.
Comparing the summit to the pre-democracy Codesa negotiations, Motsoaledi said it was important for delegates to debate “without any fear or favour, otherwise we have wasted that opportunity”.
“It is no secret that many here hold diverse views on the direction which the healthcare system of the country should take. It is no secret that some still believe that good quality healthcare for all South Africans is all but a pipe dream.
“It is also not a secret that some believe that universal health coverage … is a luxury that can only be implemented when all the other problems have been solved,” he said.
However, there are those who understand that the concept of a universal health coverage is necessary.
“Eight years ago we gathered at the Sandton Convention Centre to discuss the problems of nursing in this country. I left that gathering with the problems the nursing profession in this country was and is still going through – I called it the Codesa of nursing because of the difference of opinion held by members of the profession at that time,” he said.
The Minister said it had taken his department eight years to address some of those identified problems.
“It has taken eight years to sift through a myriad of problems and bring positions closer together. A new dawn of nursing is about to emerge in our country because of the engagement. There will be a totally new approach to training of nursing and totally new curriculum, in contrast to what we’ve seen in for the past 31 years,” he said.
Motsoaledi was optimistic delegates would come to a common understanding, as the country had previously navigated similar challenges.
“We need to outline the roadmap towards a unified healthcare system by committing to rebuilding the South African system that provides quality healthcare for all, irrespective of socio-economic conditions of individuals. In many forums, where we discuss these issues,” he said.
Opening the conference, Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa said the summit should not only be about the health system but “the health of our nation…which needed a multi-sectoral approach”.
“Access to good health must start with the prevention of preventable diseases and also a quality healthcare system for everyone.
“I believe we are all concerned about the various incidents that have happened and are happening in our healthcare system,” she said, adding that they were committed to discussing issues to resolve them.
This summit, she said, reaffirms the government’s commitment towards the wellbeing of society.
“President Ramaphosa has already demonstrated commitment, demonstrated decisive and strong leadership by identifying health as one of the priorities of our government,” she said. – SAnews.gov.za