MEC bullish on pilot projects

2012-04-07 15:56

KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo says despite the hard work to come, it will be “interesting” to see what results the province’s National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot districts yield.

Work has already started in most of the hospitals and clinics ­earmarked for NHI in the districts.

During a visit to the Amajubadistrict, all three hospitals in the area reeked of fresh paint and
corridors were piled high with ­rubble as officials started clearing space.

This work-in-progress atmosphere made it difficult to say whether the hospitals were complying with the six NHI non-negotiables, which include cleanliness.

But all the essential drugs were available, queues seemed shorter than is usually the case in the province and staff attitudes were good.

However, Dhlomo cautioned that not everything would be achieved in one go. “Once all renovations are complete, we will begin to check if all facilities do comply,” he said.

He’s realistic about the hard work ahead as officials work to put the building blocks of the NHI in place.

“It will be a tall order, but if we comply with the six non-negotiables of NHI, including essential drugs availability, adhering to ­infection control and reducing waiting times, we can make this ­pilot project work,” Dhlomo said.

The province has already appointed district quality assurance managers, infection control officers, hospital boards and clinic committees.

It has also trained school and family health teams that will visit communities and schools, where they will identify those with health and social problems.

The teams, which include a ­professional nurse and social worker, will also target pregnant women and educate them about ­attending antenatal classes.

Provincial maternal and child health director Dr Victoria ­Mubaiwa said: “Getting a woman to attend antenatal classes as early as 14 weeks will help the province reduce mother and child deaths.”

Eighteen obstetric units that will be based in 24-hour clinics will have an advanced midwife and a doctor, who will be able to perform emergency deliveries.

The department is also planning to make space for long-term clinic stays so that women whose pregnancies are considered high risk can be accommodated for up to two weeks before giving birth.

Twelve specialised obstetric ­ambulances will also be introduced in the pilot districts.

Mubaiwa said: “The interventions are in line with the vision of the NHI, which aims to reduce maternal and child mortality, HIV and strengthen primary health systems, among other things.”

KwaZulu-Natal accounted for 23% of South Africa’s maternal deaths in South Africa in the years 2008, 2009 and 2010.

Last year, 323 women in the province died because of pregnancy or childbirth-related complications.

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