Zuma concerned about healthcare
Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma pledged in his first State of the Nation address on Wednesday to clean up public hospitals and resolve the dispute over doctors' salaries.
He said the administration would enter into public-private partnerships to "rehabilitate public hospitals" so that the state could move to implement a National Health Insurance scheme.
Introduction of the scheme - which has met opposition from private health insurance groups - will be done in a "phased and incremental manner", he said.
Zuma told Parliament that improving South Africa's health care system was a top priority for his government.
"We are seriously concerned about the deterioration of the quality of health care, aggravated by the steady increase in the burden of disease in the past decade and a half."
He said government's goals included "to boost human resource capacity, revitalise hospitals and clinics and set up the fight against the scourge of HIV and Aids, TB and other diseases".
Zuma said that by 2011, his administration wanted to be able to provide antiretroviral treatment to 80% of people infected with HIV. It also hoped to meet the target of slashing infection by half in two years' time.
Turning to the standoff with state doctors' demanding better pay, he said government was "paying urgent attention to the issue of remuneration of health professionals to remove uncertainty in our health services".