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Statement by the MEC for Health During his Address to Introduce the Head of Department

04 August 2009

Good Morning,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is with pleasure that, today, I introduce to you a leader who is going to take over as the Head of Department: Dr Sibongile Zungu.
Effective leadership and management are essential to scaling up the quantity and quality of health services and to improving health outcomes. Good leadership and management are about:

providing direction to, and gaining commitment from, staff and partners;
facilitating change; and
Achieving better health outcomes through efficient, creative and responsible deployment of people and resources.

Among the fundamental things that the Head of Department would have to address are the factors that contribute to bottlenecks at different levels in the provision of health care in our province. I highlighted these during the Budget Vote and they include;

lack of managerial skills within health institutions;
failure to cut on identified deficiencies;
delayed response to quality improvement requirements;
unsatisfactory maintenance and repair services;
poor technological management;
poor supply chain management;
inability of individuals to take responsibility for their actions;
poor disciplinary procedures and corruption;
significant problems in clinical areas related to training and poor attitude of staff;
inadequate staffing levels in all areas
lack of financial management in institutions

Dr Zungu has worked in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and is now back to her home province; KwaZulu-Natal. I have full confidence in her capabilities.

We have also brought in capable officials from Treasury to help us bring our finances to order. As Acting Chief Financial Officer (CFO), I introduce to you Mr. Ndoda Biyela who has been seconded by the MEC for Finance. With him is Ms Lorraine Naidoo who will be working in our Supply Chain Management (SCM).

We have put in place health initiatives, in the form of a Ten Point Plan, with a strong sense of purpose and great ambition. We set out to save lives even though there are risks, and there are missed opportunities, which with better planning we will prevent. There is also courage an invigorating sense of ambition and purpose.

And there is a clear moral imperative to act. This is the essence of the equity argument: people should not be denied access to life-saving interventions for unfair reasons, including an inability to pay. It is time to start listening to the evidence, and not to anecdotal reports or to praises or criticisms founded on ideology rather than on evidence.

We are meeting at a time when we face multiple crises on multiple fronts. We simply cannot afford to be distracted from our central purpose. We cannot let the momentum, the drive, stumble for a moment. We must pursue every possible opportunity to improve efficiency. We are learning as we keep moving on, with an appropriate sense of urgency.

The 52nd ANC National Conference in Polokwane called for the “implementation of a National Health Insurance (NHI) to further strengthen the public health care system and ensure adequate provision of funding”. This resolution begins to chart a way forward and acknowledges that the South African health system has challenges that can only be addressed through a comprehensive transformation of the system. To be able to intervene, ten health priorities have been identified and these remain critical intervention points going forward.

Provision of strategic leadership and creation of social compact for better health outcomes
Implementation of national health insurance plan
Improve quality of health services
Improved human resource management
Overhaul the health care system and improve its management
Revitalization of physical infrastructure
Accelerated implementation of HIV and AIDS plan and reduction of mortality due to TB and associated diseases
Mass mobilization for better health for the population
Review drug policy
Research and development

As you would be aware that during the Budget Vote on the 30th July 2009 we announced the scaling up of efforts to stopping cervical cancer. Our plans are afoot and we shall descend on Amaoti, on the 11th August 2009, where the World Health Organization (WHO) Ambassador for Reproductive Health, Dr Tshabalala-Msimang and I will lead a team of health care workers in a community mobilization drive to educate women of child bearing age on how to prevent cervical cancer in a campaign called PHILA MA PROJECT!

First lady, Mrs Thobeka Madiba-Zuma will be joining us in this project as an ambassador. We also have the First lady of the Province, Dr May Mashigo Mkhize as the Ambassador of the Maternal Child and Womens health

This will not be an end in itself; it will be part of our government’s endeavour to mobilizing communities for better health outcomes.

I am also glad to announce that we have already received 75 Ambulances and we have set aside R5 million to train emergency personnel in our training college and at the Durban University of Technology.

We are in a process of identifying 600 Community Health Care Workers who would be trained in First Aid Level 3 and Basic Health Promotions to be deployed as First Aiders and Health Promoters in all high impact areas such as the airport, shopping malls, park and ride etc. These First Aiders will be attached to a paramedic for professional supervision and intervention.

Also EMRS will be appointing 400 Emergency Care practitioners at Basic Life Support (BLS) level from May to June on a contractual basis and these Emergency Care Practitioner’s will be deployed in all stadiums that will be participating including the training stadiums and as well the Public Viewing Areas. The recruitment of these personnel would begin at the end of January 2010 in order to allow orientation of the new recruits.

The National response against HIV and AIDS to date is at best half adequate – providing the basis to scale up and opportunity for significant new gains if we can achieve levels of 90% adequacy of response over the next few years. The National Strategic Plan 2007-2011 provides a comprehensive action plan in response to HIV & AIDS and STI. This report provides a strategic approach to accelerating its implementation to achieve major impact in reducing HIV and mitigating its impact.

Thank you

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