Mental health receives top priority

Monday, July 2, 2018

Mental health issues are set to take top priority in the 2018/19 financial year, with the Gauteng Health Department budgeting R184 million for mental health NGOs.                    

“Mental health is a priority across all spheres of health care this year. In the 2018/19 financial year, we will ensure more dedicated mental health care beds in general hospitals. Hospitals that are earmarked for this include: Mamelodi, Kalafong, Jubilee, Tambo Memorial and Pholosong.

“We are optimistic that this will decrease waiting times for admission to Psychiatric Services,” said Gauteng Health MEC Dr Gwen Ramokgopa.

The MEC outlined the plans for mental healthcare during her Budget Vote in the Gauteng Legislature on Friday.

The total budget allocated for the provincial health department is R46.4 billion and represents a 9.8% increase as compared to the 1% of 2017.

In addition, the department announced that it will build a new state-of-the-art Forensic Psychiatric Ward at Weskoppies. 

The department said it also aims to increase day care facilities for mental health care users.

“We will be inviting applications from Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to provide homecare to Mental Health Care Users that do not have family nor relatives to care for them. Our aim is also to provide Day Care facilities for Mental Health Care Users to be cared for and rehabilitated closer to their families from 08h00 to 16h00 in the day,” said the MEC. 

The department has increased the budget for provincial hospital services by R1.5 billion from R7.3 billion in 2017/18 to R8.8 billion in 2018/19.

“This is due to additional funding for higher municipal tariffs at institutions, funding for non-negotiable line items, and the introduction of tertiary services funding through National Tertiary Services grant to Dental and Psychiatric hospitals,” said Ramokgopa.

Meanwhile, the budget for central hospital services also received a sharp increase.

“The Central Hospital Services budget increases significantly by 15%, from R14.2 billion original budget in 2017/18 to R16.6 billion in 2018/19.

“This is due to the enhancement of tertiary services, adequately funding non-negotiable items and budget pressures from increases in the prices of medical commodities and the payment of municipal services. The programme is also funding the newly-opened Nelson Mandela Children’s hospital which provides specialized paediatric services in the country and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region,” said the MEC.

Emergency medical services and infrastructure plans 

Ramokgopa announced that the budget for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) would be increased by 13.8 percent from R1.2 billion in 2017/18 to R1.4 billion in 2018/19.

“The growth makes provision for replacing ageing emergency vehicles so that the Department can continue to provide effective and efficient emergency medical services,” said the MEC.

For 2018/2019, the department has the following projects lined up for EMS:

  • Implementation of National EMS regulations in a phased approach, to comply with minimum infra-structure requirements, skills mix and medical and allied equipment.
  • Provincialisation of City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.
  • Procurement of vehicle tracking for emergency service vehicles and private ambulance tender, which includes air and road emergency medical services.

“I have noted with concern the increasing attacks on EMS personnel and health care professionals and violence in health facilities. I wish to call on our communities to help steward the health resources that belongs to them,” she said.

In 2018/19 financial year, a total of R1.6 billion is allocated across various infrastructure investment categories.

“Of this amount R481 million is allocated for the construction of new infrastructure, while R619 million is allocated for upgrading and additions, R297 million is allocated for rehabilitation and refurbishment and a further R243 million is allocated for the maintenance of health infrastructure,” said MEC. –