Facing health challenges.

When I attended the Portfolio Committee on Health last week (29 August 2012), I was struck once again by how much dedication is being shown to solving the health challenges that face our country.

It is undeniable that the challenges are daunting, and the results so far are not great. Trends show that each project is taking about 10 years to complete, and by the time a hospital is completed it is already outdated. Perhaps what is needed is some effective project management, with a to-do list and clear deliverables.

Facility Improvement programme to prepare to meet the National core standards.

The focus is being placed on the National Department of Health’s six core (immediate and urgent) quality standards.
These are:

  • Availability of medicines and supplies;
  • Cleanliness;
  • Improve patient and staff policy;
  • Infection Prevention and Control;
  • Positive and caring attitudes; and
  • Reduction of waiting times.

Interestingly, the Northern Cape has appointed a high level quality manager and in addition to the six core standards, they also are focusing on the following five systems in the facilities.

  • Management system;
  • Infrastructure;
  • Equipment;
  • Human resources; and
  • Financial management.

Presentations were made by the departments of health in Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and North West.

The team from the North West Province, led by Dr Magome Masike, was impressive in their professional approach to their presentation. They presented the situation they face in a concise and thorough way.

So what are they facing? It seems that the challenges in the North West are mainly around infrastructure development where the R654 million budget is falling over R4 billion short in terms of the funds that are needed. Backlogs are renovations and upgrades in medical facilities in the North West are valued at R2bn. The cost of additional facilities needed to meet service requirements to remove existing health gaps is valued at R2.8Bn

There are six mine hospitals and 360 clinics in the province. The District hospitals are in need of clinical governance. Mental hospitals in the region are almost 100% compliant. The DG of the provincial health department, Dr Robinson has assessed all the facilities himself.

The Northern Cape has four projects on the go: three are at implementation stage and one is still being planned. Contractors for the projects are carefully graded according to their technical and financial abilities.

The Mpumalanga MEC for Health, Dr Cifford Mkasi , told the committee that 90 % of posts in his province are filled. He faced questions about the remaining 10%, especially in relation to the grades of the vacancies. He was questioned on the dismissal of a major contractor and asked for reassurance that the new contractor will deliver on time and correctly. He assured the meeting that there are now structures in place to prevent a repeat of the problem.

I really appreciate the privilege of attending these meetings, and am glad that I can share them with you all.

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