MEC keeps job despite health shake-up
Pretoria - Gauteng's health and social development department is to be separated into two entities, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane announced on Monday.
The split formed part of efforts to improve health services, she said in her state-of-the-province address in Mamelodi, east of Pretoria.
"We will, with effect from April 2012, have a dedicated MEC and HOD [head of department] solely for the department of health."
The changes were meant to improve effectiveness in the provincial health system, dogged by poor service provision, coupled with staff and supply shortages.
Mokonyane said the current Health and Social Development MEC Ntombi Mekgwe and head of department would run the health department in future.
Social development would remain a department, but would fall under the leadership of another MEC who was in charge of another department. Full details of the changes would be announced soon.
Apart from dealing with Gauteng residents, the provincial health system also had to help "health immigrants".
"We experience a massive influx of so-called health immigrants from other parts of the country and other African countries. This spiralling demand places huge pressure on our health system," she said.
Primary health care visits in the province had increased by one million, to 20 million visits between 2010 and 2011.
Gauteng's public health facilities had expanded dramatically, while the health budget had not increased, said Mokonyane.
Community-based health posts serviced by professional teams in the province would be increased to 25.
"Since 2009 we have produced 6 000 nursing graduates to address critical shortages. In 2012/13 an additional 2000 professional nurses are expected to graduate."
Other interventions included cost-cutting in the health department, elimination of wastage and a review of the provinces' contractual obligations.
"We have established a team to systematically address weaknesses such as public health financing, as well as management, procurement and operational systems such as those relating to the supply of medicines," she said.
There would be campaigns focused on preventing new HIV infections. The number of sites for administration of antiretroviral therapy would be increased to 403.
Exceeded job targets
In the next financial year, Mokonyane said the provincial government would provide housing for people who earned between R3 500 and R15 000 a month.
"This category includes civil servants such as teachers, nurses, police and factory employees who did not qualify for RDP houses in the past, and also did not access bank loans."
She welcomed President's Jacob Zuma's comments on land reform in his state-of-the-nation speech last week.
"We welcome the pronouncement by President Jacob Zuma that the willing-seller, willing-buyer policy needs to be reviewed."
On the job creation front, Mokonyane said she was impressed with the 2011 Fourth Quarter Labour Force Survey which showed a 4.1% increase in employment in Gauteng compared to the previous year.
"By the end of December 2011, we had exceeded our job creation targets, with 281 686 jobs created against a target of 229 904 jobs by the end of March 2012."
The premier said the province was introducing measures to reduce dependency on the social grant system.
"We will facilitate the movement of at least 1 200 recipients from the child support grant by creating access to job or business opportunities."
In a bid to promote access to education, Mokonyane said more than one million children in the province were now going to "no-fee schools".
"We provide nutritious meals every school day to over one million learners and also provide uniforms to deserving learners. We also give transport for those who live 5km from school."
To address specialised training and skills acquisition in the province, a Gauteng Automotive Training Academy would be started, with support from vehicle manufacturer, Nissan.
The renaming of the R21 road after Albertina Sisulu would be finalised this year. Commissioner Street in Johannesburg would form part of the R21.
"In 2012/13, we have to close the chapter on the uncertainties regarding the place name Tshwane. We are people who understand where this city is coming from. We can't be told that the [city] name cannot be changed."
On the contentious tolling of roads, Mokonyane said the project had to be understood in the context of the province's bid to establish an integrated public transport network.
"As the provincial government, we are conscious that a solution must be found that will balance the considerations of affordability, impact on public transport and honouring our commitment to paying our dues."
She said the province was working with a team convened by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to find a sustainable solution to the matter.
Mokonyane said the opening of Gautrain service between Tshwane and Johannesburg had resulted in more people using public transport. She said key corridors had been identified for the expansion of the Bus Rapid Transit system in Ekurhuleni and Tshwane.
"Construction of Tshwane BRT is scheduled to start in 2013. Gautrain and BRT present further offerings in addition to the revitalisation of rail by national government," she said.