Gauteng Health MEC's first 100 Days: 'The challenges are well known, but they aren't insurmountable'

Newly appointed MEC for health Bandile Masuku at the swearing-in of members of the new Gauteng executive council. (Palesa Dlamini, file)
Newly appointed MEC for health Bandile Masuku at the swearing-in of members of the new Gauteng executive council. (Palesa Dlamini, file)

Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku says his initial 100 days in office involved "listening" roadshows with staff, patients and the province's residents.

Masuku admits that the country's largest health system still has enormous challenges, however, there are plenty of opportunities and pockets of excellence.

The province's premier, David Makhura, also admitted there were still some challenges in the public health system, during his unannounced visits to public health facilities with Masuku.

He said Masuku had 100 days to develop solid plans that would resolve healthcare challenges in the province.  

Speaking on his first 100 days in office at an official press conference in Soweto on Tuesday, Masuku said that the challenges were well known, but not insurmountable.

The department had put in place a five-year plan to pursue priorities such as rolling out the National Health Insurance (NHI), improving patients' experience, staff morale and health services, as well as health promotion to create awareness and mobilise the public toward healthy lifestyles.

Gauteng facilities 'NHI ready'

"We have set ourselves the ambitious goal of building a people-centred, clinician-led and stakeholder-driven healthcare system," he said. 

Masuku said the province had 293 ideal clinics that were "NHI ready" and that 24-hour community health centres would be fully functional across the province by the end of 2019. 

The health department took the opportunity to also officially launch the uMpilo application, which will handle complaints from people who use public clinics and hospitals. The app is earmarked to be up and running on Friday.

Masuku's first days in office involved putting out fires, as unhappy healthcare users often took to social media to complain about the treatment they or loved ones had received at facilities, as well as the sporadic shortages of HIV drugs at clinics across the province. 

"Patients will be able to report anything. It can be staff attitudes, infrastructure, patient experience, patients and staff safety," chief information officer Solly Cave explains.

The app automatically populates a person's location and then the patient is then able to articulate their issue after their location has been recorded, Cave said. 

"The patients have a choice to report anonymously... When submitted, the complaint goes straight to the backend where quality assurance team will receive and start working on it," he added.

Filling of critical posts

People would also be able to use the app to get information about any health facility in Gauteng, such as who is the CEO of a hospital in their area.

Masuku said his first three months in office had allowed the department to set the tone and gain deeper insights about the province's health system.   

"We have held forums and meetings that afford our various health partners the opportunity to shape and inform our policy and programmes on topics such as the Health Market Inquiry and its implications for the NHI, youth and reproductive health, the role of private and public sector health professionals in improving health outcomes." 

He said he had also completed shortlisting 14 hospital CEOs that and most were scheduled to start working in October. 

Funds to fill critical posts had also been allocated, he said. 

"A total of 1 974 posts will be filled by the end of this financial year. Most of these to be filled by the end of this year."

- Health-e News

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