Manuel budgets R932mil for HIV and AIDS grant

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parliament - An additional R932 million will be added to the Health Department's HIV and AIDS grant in the coming financial year to extend the screening of pregnant mothers.

"We are budgeting to extend screening of pregnant mothers coming into the public health system and to phase in an improved drug regimen to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission," Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel said on Wednesday during his Budget Speech.

Minister Manuel said the government's anti-retroviral programme now covers 630 000 people and the medium term expenditure framework provides for an increase to 1.4 million by 2011/12.

He said the 2009 budget makes provision for further improvements in the remuneration of health professionals and for continued expansion of the hospital revitalisation programme.

The programme received a further R1 billion allocation in 2007 than the previous year, which took total spending to R6.8 billion over the next three years.

The minister further said the department will receive 31 hospitals in the next three years.

"A total of 31 hospitals are under construction, 18 of which will be completed over the next three years," the minister said.

He said a new unit to address the quality of service provision was also included in government's health spending proposals.

"This will be named the National Office for Standards Compliance and it will set and audit norms and standards for hospitals and primary care centres," he said.

The minister also announced an additional R1.8 billion to introduce three new child vaccines, which have proved effective in preventing infant and child deaths.

"The allocations provide for the introduction of three new child vaccines to reduce deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea, among others."

The tuberculosis and HIV and AIDS programmes both have also received additional resources.

Minister Manuel acknowledged the complexity of the challenges facing the country's health services and the strain on resources associated with a rising disease burden.

He said policy interventions supported in this budget focuses both on health facilities and services, and on more aggressively combating the causes of ill-health.

"The development of a National Health Insurance System is aimed at improving the equity of health care financing and enhancing the quality of care for all South Africans," he said.