The state will provide free medical care and hospitalisation for all, President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday. "We are currently working hard to bring into operation the National Health Service, a preventive health scheme that will ensure that quality health care is available to all regardless of economic or financial means," he said in a speech prepared for delivery at the opening of the Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington, Northern Cape.
"Our government is working, and will continue to deliver services to especially the vulnerable in our society."
Zuma said in the past five years 300 new health facilities had been built, including 160 new clinics.
The country's HIV/Aids turnaround strategy was a success, he said. He said a target for his administration was to ensure that at least 4.6 million people were enrolled in the antiretroviral programme. Zuma said the opening of the hospital was a chance to create direct and indirect jobs.
"Many people in and around the area of Upington continue to benefit and economic growth and development shows positive trends.
"However, we must intensify our efforts at improving on training clinical staff."
The site had been identified for the College of Emergency Care. It was expected to be up and running later this year, he said.
There had been a transfer of hospital services from the old Gordonia Hospital, which provided an opportune moment for training through expanding nursing college facilities. There would also be a satellite college in Upington linked to the Henrietta Stockdale Nursing College in Kimberley.
"There will be improved access to training for our nurses and ensuring that training takes place within the province," said Zuma.
"This double-edged approach will reduce the burden of costs of training, and will also help train more people locally as opposed to faraway places."
The African National Congress in the province welcomed the opening of the hospital.
"This is a major milestone in improving access to health care for both the people of ZF Mgcawu and Namakwa districts," provincial secretary Zamani Saul said in a statement.
Picture courtesy of @PresidencyZA