How can the country fix the many and varied challenges present in its ailing healthcare system? This was the key question posed to scores of health managers, practitioners, clinicians, heads of medical schemes, civil society organisations and activists who attended the Presidential Health Summit, held on Friday and Saturday in Boksburg.
Those attending broke up into planning commissions to help identify pressing issues and outline a way to rebuild the health system. The commissions tackled subjects ranging from human resources and supply chain management to infrastructure, private sector engagement and financial management.
It remains to be seen whether the commissions’ suggestions are implemented, say health and social justice activists.
“There is a very strong mood across all the stakeholders and health providers to fix the health system,” Mark Heywood, executive director of civil rights group Section 27, told City Press. “There were many good insights and suggestions, but of course, the big question is how all of this will be reflected in the conference declaration.”
Heywood is also a member of a body of doctors and activists known as The Progressive Health Forum, which was initially sceptical about the summit – calling it a “rubber-stamp” for the National Health Insurance (NHI), without addressing the issues patients and practitioners face on the ground.
“All of us feel that the existing NHI bill is badly conceived and unworkable at this point in time. The priority should be on focusing on what is wrong and finding ways to fix it,” he said.
Kgosi Letlape, president of the Health Professions Council, charged: “We need a responsive and responsible state … The state must lead and it must fund [solutions].