The journey is still long for health in SA – Aaron Motsoaledi

2014-03-13 11:21

Although much has been achieved, the health care system still has a long way to go, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said.

“We have done well since 1994, but the journey is still long. Remember we were reversing centuries not just a decade,” he said at The New Age Business Briefing in Johannesburg today.

“There were parts of the country where people never even had the clinics or any health service whatsoever.”

Forty percent of the current 4 000 health facilities were created since 1994, and the issue of accessibility to all public hospitals had also been addressed.

“There were hospitals in this country, which were highly equipped in terms of resources, both financial and human, but other races were not allowed to go even near their gates.”

Motsoaledi admitted there were problems, and mistakes had been made, but his department had developed a plan to address those.

“I will think of three areas which are problematic and we have already developed plans.”

The early approach to HIV and Aids was one of the problems his department faced.

“We have turned the corner and corrected that. The world now regards us as the model country.”

Another problem was the assumption that “anyone” could be a hospital CEO or run a health facility.

Motsoaledi said his department was reversing this, as it had happened in the past decade.

The maintenance of health facilities was another problem needing to be dealt with, as many facilities had not been maintained for a long time.

“We have changed the system of how our health care facilities are maintained. We are putting up a very strong engineering unit in the department.”

Motsoaledi also dismissed suggestions he was at “war” with pharmaceutical companies.

“They are at war with the public, not me. What they are going to do is not going to destroy me, but the public.”

All the department wanted was the availability of affordable drugs for the public, because the health system could not run without them.

He also spoke of the National Health Insurance system, saying it was not something that had never been done before.

“Financing health care has always been in favour of the rich and a punishment to poor people.”

Taxpayers would finance the insurance.

In terms of the Constitution, health care was a right for everyone and the state should do everything within its available resources to make sure this right was realised.

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