Opposition praise Health MEC’s plan

2009-07-31 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL’S MEC for Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, was praised by opposition parties for admitting up front that poor leadership and management contributed to the woes of the province’s public health care system.

His 10-point recovery plan was described as “spot on” by IFP leader in the legislature Bonginkosi Buthelezi, a fellow medical doctor.

Dhlomo said the biggest problem in all hospitals is financial management and that everything else falls into place once this is turned around. The KZN Department of Health overspent its budget by R2 billion over the past two financial years.

Tabling his department’s R17-billion budget 2009/10, Dhlomo said the10-point plan, which will run for the next five years, will tackle such issues as the lack of managerial skills within health institutions, poor financial manangement, poor discipinary procedures and corruption, unsatisfactory maintenance and repair services, poor supply chain management, staffing and training.

He stressed he did not enter a department that was not functioning and that there are good managers who need to be commended.

“We also have inefficient managers. We need to identify them and put a programme to deal with the shortcomings that they have.”

Dhlomo said special attention will be paid to hospital CEOs. “We will endeavour to enroll CEOs on to the hospital management training programme on an annual basis. However, this requires that we evaluate all CEOs of hospitals to ensure that they meet minimum requirements for effective management of the said facilities, and institute corrective measures where indicated, including retraining and/or deployment.”

He added that during the current financial year, one hospital per district will be targeted for a full-scale turnaround strategy.

“Firstly, this will involve the identification and analysis of bottlenecks associated with service delivery, secondly the department will institute measures to increase the effectiveness of the management at hospitals and clinics, and to upgrade professional skills and practice. And thirdly, we will scrutinise the use of existing procedures and systems with the aim of combating fraud, patient abuse and professional negligence.”

Grey’s will be the hospital targed in the uMgungundlovu district.

The biggest chunk of the R17-billion budget goes to district health services (R8,2 billion) and provincial hospital services (R4,45 billion).

According to the MEC, the aim of his department is to meet international health standards by halving infant child and maternal mortality rates and increasing the availability of anti-retroviral treatment.

Dhlomo said a new head of department has been appointed. She is Dr Sibongile Zungu, a qualified medical doctor, who previously worked in the KZN Health Department as well as in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. He said he will provide more details at her official introduction soon.

THE KZN Health Department wants the government to establish a state-owned company to produce medications. This comes amid concerns over the high cost of medications, said MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo.

KwaZulu-Natal will actively participate in the national Health Department’s drug policy review into the production, supply and costs of medicine “to find mutually beneficial solutions in the supply of drugs“, he said.

These could include the establishment of a state-owned pharmaceutical company, which could be another area of public-private partnership. — Sapa.

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