W Cape partners to expand healthcare to patients

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pretoria – The Western Cape has embarked on a number of partnerships aimed at expanding healthcare opportunities to all, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille announced on Friday.

Sharing progress made in the provincial healthcare system, during the State of the Province Address, Zille noted that last month, they launched the partnership with the Clicks Group to provide immunisation and family planning services to state patients at Clicks stores. This will be rolled out across the province.

Through this partnership, Zille explained that patients are able to make an appointment with a nurse at a participating Clicks clinic for vaccines and contraceptives and the stock is provided by the provincial government.

“Not only will this result in this medication being more widely accessible, but it will also shorten queues at primary health care facilities. This partnership is a first of its kind in the country, and we hope to form similar partnerships with other pharmacy groups in the province,” Zille said.

Last month, the province also launched the Health Foundation in Stellenbosch, an independent non-profit organisation which aims to replicate the work done by the Red Cross Children’s Hospital Trust across the province by generating funds for the maintenance and upgrading of all health infrastructure.

The state of the art Khayelitsha Hospital celebrated its first birthday last month and has already received a number of awards. The hospital’s pharmacy won a gold award for the best functioning pharmacy in the province and has been recognised for having the lowest emergency unit mortality rate in the country.

Last week, Health MEC, Theuns Botha also officially opened the new R33 million Malmesbury Community Day Centre clinic. 

“A number of other health facilities also opened last year, including the upgraded Grassy Park and TC Newman Day Care Centres and the Oudtshoorn Clinic. The R500 million Mitchell’s Plain district hospital will also be fully operational soon and will serve over 400 000 people.”

Other ongoing infrastructure projects include the planned re-construction of GF Jooste Hospital, the construction of the new Du Noon Community Health Care Centre and a R53 million emergency centre at Karl Bremer Hospital.

The Provincial Health Department has been piloting a complaints hotline at eight health facilities across the province over the last five months. During this period 594 complaints were logged with the call centre of which 578 or 97% were resolved.

Zille said the pilot has been a huge success and they plan to roll out the hotline to all health facilities in the metro during the 2013/2014 financial year.

Over 100 million condoms are being distributed every year, reaching an average of 50 condoms per sexually active male across the province. 

The province also increased Anti Retroviral Treatment provision from 14 370 to 132 279, and brought down the mother-to-child HIV transmission rate to 1.8%, the lowest in the country. 

While the TB rate in the province is still unacceptably high, at 768 cases per 100 000 people, Zille reported that the province has the highest cure rate in the country at 82%.

However, Zille noted that the province has failed to meet the 2009 target set to reduce HIV prevalence from 16% to 8% by 2014. The prevalence rate has increased to 18.4% in 2011, with the biggest increase among women between the ages of 30 and 39 years. 

Zille partly attributed this to in-migration, but primarily the result of the province’s failure to achieve the behaviour change necessary to reduce the incidence of HIV and Aids. 

“People continue to have unprotected, inter-generational sex with multiple concurrent partners. Many women continue to have no say in their sexuality.”

Up to 80% of the province’s health budget is spent on preventable conditions, including non-communicable diseases caused by smoking, alcohol abuse, unhealthy diets and physical inactivity.

Zille said that since 2000 the province has only been able to reduce the incidence of these conditions by 0.3%.  She acknowledged that they were also struggling to reduce the number of injury related deaths on roads and homes, caused by alcohol and drug use.

“The implications are stark when one considers that the government subsidises each school child by R1 000 per year, but some palliative care beds by over R500 per day, and some hospital casualty beds by over R4 000 per day. 

“Where illnesses can be prevented, we must each take responsibility for doing so, starting with us, right here - going on an eating and exercise regime to bring our weight within normal limits. Those who continue to live unhealthy life styles must realise they are depriving others of their rights,” Zille warned. – SAnews.gov.za