Immunisation a 'non-negotiable' in SA's health model

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cape Town - The Department of Health is set to embark on several mass immunisation campaigns from next month, said Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

He described immunisation as a "non-negotiable" that every South African should have to undergo if the country was to focus more on a preventative rather than curative health model and maintain a health care system which didn't overburden the fiscus.

Motsoaledi was briefing the media on Thursday on progress made in government's human development cluster, which he chairs with Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga.

He said an immunisation campaign tackling measles and polio, expected to run between 12 to 23 April and 24 to 28 May, aimed to reach more than 95% of all children up to five years for measles and 90% aged between six months and 14 years old for polio.

A mass immunisation campaign against H1N1 influenza would also be rolled out from the beginning of next month, he said.

Motsoaledi said a routine immunisation campaign would also be strengthened against other diseases such as rotavirus and pneumococcus in healthcare institutions.

The department will later this year launch a campaign which will take the primary health care model to schools, he said.

An Act aimed at strengthening the health standards in health care institutions through the establishment of an Office of Standard Compliance is expected to pass through Parliament later this year.

Motsoaledi said he hoped a team from the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), which will visit health care institutions and deal with management issues, would start their work next month.

"We will leave no stone unturned in improving the health system's effectiveness and improving the infrastructure in our healthcare system," he said.

He said he had also written to the retired social workers, nurses, pharmacists and doctors to encourage them to assist with voluntary counselling and testing for HIV.

He had also written to army doctors, final-year nursing students as well as universities to ask medical students to help out for at least five days.

The health department aims to cut the rate of infection by 50% and reach 80% of all those who need ARVs by 2011.