Long wait for new hospital

2010-03-17 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL will have to wait at least three years before the province’s Health Department completes the construction of the new multi-millionrand, state-of-the-art King Edward VIII Provincial Hospital.

Provincial head of department for Health, Dr Sibongile Zungu, confirmed this during the legislature’s health portfolio committee pre-budget hearings held at the legislature in Pietermaritzburg yesterday.

Zungu said the new hospital will not be constructed at the same site as the present dilapidated hospital, but will be situated nearby.

“We are presently discussing with the medical school as they are planning to build a new facility close to the present one. We want to [continue to] be linked with the medical school as our institution also caters for training purposes,” Zungu said.

Chief financial officer for the department, Ndoda Biyela, told the portfolio committee that, for the current financial year (2010/11), a sum of R56,2 million will be allocated to the hospital to help with renovations of the present buildings, as well as planning work for the new hospital.

“This will be done to ensure that members of the public continue to get services from King Edward during the construction period of the new facility,” Biyela said.

Zungu said after the completion of the new facility, the present hospital will be converted into a district health centre, “as we are in need of more hospital beds for the Durban area”.

Biyela said even though the Health Department was allocated over R21,6 billion, which was second only to the Education Department’s R29 billion for the current financial year, this amount is not enough to cater for all provincial health needs.

The budget allocation is divided into two sections — the equitable share, which is R17,7 billion for prioritised services, and the conditional grants, which is R3,8 billion.

Conditional grants are allocated for specific special projects like national tertiary services grants (R1,1 billion), a comprehensive HIV and Aids grant (R1,5 billion), forensic pathology services grants (R152,4 million) and infrastructure grants to provinces (R401 million).

In addition, there are two new conditional grants: the 2010 World Cup health preparation strategy grant (R3,9 million) and an extended public works programme grant for the social sector (R2,7 million).

With the current financial year’s budget, the department is planning to focus on fighting illnesses such as TB, HIV and Aids, and improving maternal child and women’s health services.

“The department is also implementing a services delivery improvement model to reform delivery of infrastructure, by improved management of [the] infrastructure portfolio, building capacity internally, focused planning to align infrastructure development, and improved and more participative joint management relations with infrastructure implementing agents,” Biyela said.

Dr Sandile Buthelezi, who heads the much-anticipated programme for male circumcision, which Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini proposed be renewed to help prevent HIV, said it is not going to be introduced this financial year, “as we will still be at a planning stage of the programme”.

Under the present Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), the allocations for other components of the department are as follows: administration (R1,04 billion), district health (R8,4 billion), emergency medical services (R696 million), provincial hospital ser­vices (R4,3 billion), central hospital services (R1,7 billion), health sciences and training (R671 million), health care support services (R27,5 million) and health facilities management (R1,3 billion).

A sum of R758 million is put aside for unauthorised expenditure, but it is emphatically stated that it is not for spending.

After the proposed budget underwent an intense interrogation by MPLs yesterday, the IFP and the ANC voiced their support for it.

The budget is expected to go before the legislature for a hearing on April 22.

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