Health Summit outcomes welcomed

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the outcomes of the Presidential Health Summit 2018, saying the deliberations will inspire action towards the creation of a healthier nation.

President Ramaphosa said the summit gave government an opportunity to examine the national health system as a patient in its own right and to arrive at a diagnosis that will allow government to intervene and return the system to good health.

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi released the report earlier on Tuesday at Tuynhuys, Cape Town.

“We need a robust, efficient and caring health system in a country where more than seven million people live with HIV; where we are seeing rising rates of diabetes, hypertension and cancer, and where maternal and neonatal death rates must be reduced.

“Too many people do not receive the quality preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care services they deserve, while others receive superior health care services,” the President said. 

President Ramaphosa said the attention government will pay to restoring the health system will flow from two of the national priority tasks, as outlined in the State of the Nation Address. These tasks are improving the condition of life for all South Africans, especially the poor, and strengthening the capacity of the State to address the needs of the people.

Realising the magnitude of the challenges in health care, the President said government has established a National Health Insurance (NHI) and quality improvement War Room in the Presidency.

The war room brings together various key departments to address the crisis in the public health system, while preparing for the implementation of the NHI.

President Ramaphosa said while it is essential to build and maintain a healthy nation, this responsibility rests not only on government and partners to the health summit of 2018, but on all South Africans who should adopt healthy and active lifestyles and do their best to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing.

The Presidential Health Summit came after the consultative meeting in August 2018, which focused on the NHI and explored ways to strengthen the health system to ensure that it provides access to quality health services for all through an inclusive process.
The summit was the first engagement on this scale and depth among a range of stakeholders, which included government, legislators, the health private sector, health economists, health service users, academics, health practitioners, labour and community organisations and community health workers.
The summit was structured to look into nine key areas such as the health workforce, supply chain management, public financial management, infrastructure planning, health service provision, leadership and governance and community engagement, among others. 

The summit saw the adoption of the principle of ‘One Country - One Health System’ for South Africa and welcomed the renewed energy and commitment within government to improve the health system.

Fixing the system from the ground up

Having identified critical challenges, the summit called on government to urgently prioritise the filling of critical vacant posts so that staff shortages in key areas of the health system can be stabilised.
Based on summit deliberations, provinces are expected to prioritise their financial resource allocations in a manner that will ensure that the delivery of quality health care is not compromised.
The summit went on to propose a centralised procurement system with standardised procurement systems and processes to deal with corruption and maximise efficiencies.

Further proposals relate to the development of expertise and funding to implement the National Department of Health’s health infrastructure plan in a manner that will respond to changing population and clinical dynamics.
This demands stronger coordination between the Department of Health and partners such as the Department of Public Works. Overall, infrastructure in both the public and private health sectors must meet the requirements of the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC).
Getting the private sector on board

Mindful of the interplay between the public and private sectors, the summit acknowledged the critical role the private sector has to play in the realisation of universal health coverage, and called for ongoing inclusive consultative processes to achieve this goal.

Representatives of the summit sectors are currently developing a Presidential Health Summit Compact based on the outcomes, which commits sectors to work together to implement identified solutions.

The reps are set to consult their key constituencies on the interventions to be implemented and craft a plan including clear objectives, methods, timelines, milestones and indicators as well as financial resources. –