Gauteng to get dedicated health MEC, HOD

2012-02-20 13:15

Gauteng will get a dedicated MEC and head of department (HOD) for health to improve the management and administration of provincial hospitals, Premier Nomvula Mokonyane has announced.

Delivering her state of the province address at the University of Pretoria’s Vista campus in Mamelodi, north of Gauteng, Mokonyane said some of the interventions would focus on problems which have plagued the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.

The province, said Mokonyane, was “a victim of its own success” on health matters as dramatic increases in patient numbers, including the influx of “health migrants” had put a strain on the coffers of the province to provide proper health services.

“Some (immigrants) come just for the day to collect medicines and see health professionals. And others come to give birth or have operations.

“This spiralling demand places huge pressure on our health system,” she said, adding that the number of primary health care visits increased by 1 million to 20 million a year between 2010 and last year.

“The use of our public health facilities has expanded dramatically, but the health budget has not.

“This situation is made worse by poor financial management and operational weaknesses, which necessitated interventions by the provincial government, supported by the national government,” said the premier.

Mokonyane took a swipe at “unscrupulous” government officials and individuals in the private sector who were lining their pockets with taxpayers’ money, as is apparent from the discovery of 150 cases of fraud and corruption in the province.

Among these were nine doctors from local hospitals.

The cases were uncovered, in part, because of the premier’s hotline, which responded to more than 90 000 complaints since its launch a few months ago.

Mokonyane said her government was serious about rooting out corruption as it undermined effective service delivery.

“Our work to address operational weaknesses and ensure proper controls and accountability has uncovered unscrupulous individuals from both the public and the private sectors who attempt to abuse the public service and divert public resources for their own selfish ends,” said Mokonyane.
She noted that the health department could save up to R20 million a month by dealing with the abuse of overtime.

Mokonyane said the interventions on health would help the province in its bid to decrease the child mortality rate.

The Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has been plagued by reports of avoidable child deaths in the past few months.

Disciplinary action would be instituted in cases of negligence and the department would focus more on financial management at health institutions.

The province would also focus on safety and security, improve support for farmers and develop a Smart City near Nasrec in Johannesburg as an information and communications technology (ICT) hub to “improve the quality of life and decrease the cost of ICT”.

Gauteng has pledged R500 million, while the national government has injected R1.4 billion to upgrade bulk water services linked to the Sedibeng Regional Sanitation Scheme to provide more water for residents.

A long term transport plan was also on the cards to support the Bus Rapid Transport System between Tshwane and Johannesburg.

Mokonyane lamented the high rate of crime against women and children and promised to take steps to improve conviction rates, forensic capacity for police and enhance support for affected families and the handling of police dockets.

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» This is an updated version of this story.

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