Quality healthcare still mostly benefits the rich - health minister

2016-12-03 09:39
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi address a packed tent at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi address a packed tent at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg (Mpho Raborife, News24)

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Johannesburg - Universal access to quality healthcare can work as an equaliser between the rich and the poor, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Friday.

“The financing of healthcare is not dedicated to those who need it. Healthcare financing is in favour of the well-to-do. The time for that to change has arrived,” Motsoaledi said.

He was speaking at the unveiling of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital in Parktown, Johannesburg, after two-and-a-half years of construction.

Work on the R1bn facility began in April 2014. It has 200 beds and will be a referral-based hospital, a training centre for specialists, and a centre for research into childhood illnesses.

The hospital has pledged not to turn away any child in need of care.

Motsoaledi said he and many others across the world, including members of the United Nations, believed that if universal healthcare coverage was amended, it would be one of the biggest equalisers between the rich and poor.

“If there is no universal healthcare coverage, all the dreams we have will not be realised. No matter how sick you are, the type of assistance you get depends on the depth of your pocket.

“Generally in South Africa, 80% of specialists serve 16% of the population. It is therefore obvious that when it comes to specialised needs for children, there is a great unmet need that needs to be addressed.”

Most people loved children, regardless of their nationality, race, or gender. However, there were millions of children around the world who were not being cared for.

1.3 million children without parents

He said that in South Africa 1.3 million children had either lost one or both parents.

The Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital was only the fourth such hospital on the continent, besides the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in the Western Cape and two more in Egypt. It was the most technologically advanced of the lot, he said.

These numbers compared dismally to the first world. 

“There are 23 such hospitals in Canada, 19 in Australia, 20 in Germany, and 157 in the United States.” 

He said the wealth of the world lay in the well-being of its children.

South Africa, like most countries in Africa, was in need of specialised medical staff, especially nurses, he said.

The hospital had 48 critical care beds, which was 16% of the required number of such beds a hospital should have, according to international guidelines.

Globally, most hospitals had between 8% and 12% of their beds dedicated to critical care. In South Africa it was 4%.

“The hospital will assist us to fill many gaps. The only way all children of the region can have access to this hospital is when government supports it,” he said.

Read more on:    aaron motsoaledi  |  johannesburg  |  health

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