Private healthcare 'a monster'

2011-10-11 15:30
Johannesburg - South Africa's private healthcare system is a monster that will swallow the country whole, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday.

"People think I am mad, but the healthcare system wasn't always this way. Our shortage [in medical staff] is self-created," he said.

"Health is a fundamental human right. And if we don't work together, this monster will swallow us whole. This is not a joke, I will talk this madness until people join the madness."

Motsoaledi was talking at the launch of the Human Resource Strategy for Health in Johannesburg.

"Improving human planning, development and management is instrumental in the overhaul of the health system," he said.

Poor planning

The health sector needed a skilled workforce able to respond to the burden of disease and citizens' expectation of quality service. He said a medical staff shortage was caused by poor planning by the apartheid government.

"We are suffering because of their messes. We are also creating our own messes, but we need to stop this. The country used to be fragmented by colour, but it is fragmented by economics now."

Motsoaledi said the strategy included the revamping of existing hospitals, the creation of a new medical school, and increasing the quota of medical students accepted by universities each year.

"We need many, many, many students to increase the output of doctors. Almost three times what we have now. And even if we do this for 10 years, we still won't meet the amount of doctors that we need," he said.

"The training of people from rural areas is important because when they finish study, they go back to practise at their areas. I did the same thing."

Motsoaledi said many private practitioners needed to move back into the public health care sector to improve the quality of medical care and education.

"How to get these doctors back is the million dollar question. We are planning for this and we will reveal our plans soon."

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