Move to rescue Gauteng's health

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Johannesburg - Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane today announced some changes into the composition of her government by appointing a separate MEC for the provincial Department of Health.

Currently, the Department of Health and Social Development fall under one portfolio, headed by MEC Ntombi Mekgwe. Mokonyane said the changes will see Mekgwe only focusing on Health while Social Development will now fall under the Department of Agriculture, led by MEC Nandi Mayathula.

Both the Department of Agriculture and Social Development will have separate Heads of Department reporting to Mayathula.

The changes by Mokonyane come amid serious challenges in the province's health system with the premier today pointing to issues of maladministration and corruption as being among the issues that need attention.

At least nine doctors from three hospitals were suspended last week after they were linked to corruption involving overtime claims. The head of the Gauteng medical depot has also been fired with Mokonyane saying misconduct charges were being formulated against him. Investigations were also underway into the events that had led to the death of well-known former soccer player Thabang Lebese in a Gauteng hospital.

Mokonyane was confident that by placing a separate MEC dedicated to health would bring about effective functioning of the Department.

She believed Mekgwe, a former Mayor of Ekurhuleni, will now have an "undivided attention" to focus on matters of health in the province. Social Development will also fit in well within Agriculture.

"Our contention is that there is a strong synergy between the Department of Social Development and that of Agriculture and Rural Development since the both play a strategic role in poverty alleviation and food security," she said.

In another development, Mokonyane announced that the Creative Industries and the Gauteng Film Commission will shift from the Department of Economic Development "to its more suited position" within the Department of Arts, Culture and Recreation.