MEC promotes prevention-based health care approach

2015-08-18 09:56
KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo with the cover of a book promoting Primary Health Care.

KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo with the cover of a book promoting Primary Health Care. (Supplied)

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PLANS to strengthen primary health care in local and rural communities across the province were announced last Friday by the KZN Health Department.

KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo addressed Pholela residents at their community health centre in Bulwer on the department’s plans for the system.

In a release sent by the department yesterday morning, it said the Primary Health Care (PHC) system was based on disease prevention, promoting healthy lifestyles, mapping the areas they would be working in and understanding the culture and beliefs of the community.

The Pholela Community Health Centre, which was founded by Israeli doctors Sidney and Emily Kark in 1940, is internationally known as the area where the “community-orientated primary health care [COPHC] approach was successfully initiated and put into practice to deal with the health needs of the community”.

Dhlomo said, while addressing the community and media, that the COPHC approach needed to be revived in a country where there was “an unsustainable legacy of curative and hospital-centric approach to health care”.

“Here in South Africa, you are respected if you’re an orthopaedic doctor who can chop people’s legs when they develop complications.

“But in Cuba, for instance, you’re respected because you can teach people how they can prevent diseases. We know the COPHC approach works for other countries, we want to see it working in our country,” said Dhlomo in the release.

In collaboration with the University of KwaZulu-Natal medical school, the department said it would use the Pholela clinic as the pilot programme that would help “revive and strengthen the PHC system in the province”.

“This is where we will be monitoring, evaluating and documenting the process of implementation to enable replication and sharing of practices to all our districts. We are focusing on keeping people healthy for as long as possible through health promotion and disease prevention.

“We have invested resources on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support efforts at community level by creating and strengthening community-based outreach teams, properly functioning and supervised clinics, family health teams and school health teams,” said Dhlomo.

KZN IFP MPL Blessed Gwala said in a statement yesterday that the IFP welcomed the COPHC system.

“For any project to succeed, community participation and support are vital and doctors Sidney and Emily Kark demonstrated this through establishing and sustaining the Pholela Health Centre for 75 years,” he said.

“They were successful in developing the centre to such an extent that it is now being adopted as a model to be replicated in other areas of the province.”

DA MPL Dr Imran Keeka said the DA welcomed any initiative that would prevent disease and would further support any initiative government took that would allow “universal access to health care”.

Dhlomo also mentioned the collaboration between South Africa and Cuba, where South African students will be sent to Cuba to study primary health care.

The KZN Health Department is funding 783 medical students studying in Cuba at a cost of R 143,4 million

Read more on:    sibongiseni dhlomo  |  pietermaritzburg

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