Parliament at work

Today is going to be a busy day for the Portfolio Committee on Health in Parliament, and certainly one worth watching for those of us who are interested in health in our country.

The Annual Performance Plan of the National Department of Health will be presented, and it is expected to offer us an insight into the Department’s aspirations up to 2016. Each of the points in the ten point plan will be unpacked and the key interventions that are planned or have already been executed will be explained.

I am looking forward to hearing about health delivery targets met, such as the complaints resolution process, which is aiming to deal with issues within 25 days. The number of municipal ward based primary health teams should reach 750 this year, and double by 2016. I am expecting to hear how the district health system is becoming fully functional and that the dream of health care for all is being met.

The total budget allocation is also on an upward trajectory, from around R28m this year to R36b and new health infrastructure grants and allocations are being announced.

It is clear that the health system is being radically and fundamentally transformed on all levels.

The National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) will also be presenting its Annual Performance plan, and it will be interesting to see how its work dovetails into the DoH objectives. Laboratory and diagnostic services are a vital part of our health provision.

The NHLS aims to restructure itself, and is undergoing a comprehensive review of services, governance and finance models. It will be increasing its average prices by 4% in the 2013/14 financial year, which will clearly have a knock-on effect.

It is also predicting an unrecoverable shortfall of R123 million for the NICD (National Institute for Communicable Diseases) and NIOH (National Institute for Occupational Health). The impact of the KwaZulu –Natal Department of Health – NHLS arbitration means that R1.5 billion is not expected to be recovered in the current financial year.

There are going to be some very interesting questions raised, so watch this space for some of the answers!

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