BuaNews (Tshwane)

17 February 2012

South Africa: Department's Audit Will Prepare for NHI - Motsoaledi

Cape Town — The Department of Health has embarked on a massive audit of clinics and hospitals in preparation for the implementation of the National Health System (NHI), the Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi said today.

Briefing media in Parliament on Thursday, Motsoaledi said so far the audit, which looks at cleanliness, safety and security, drug stock count, long queues, infection control and the attitude of staff at clinics, had addressed 3 336 of the department's 4 200 health facilities.

The attitude of staff and cleanliness were two of the biggest problems, he said, adding that the department this week had trained a team of 40 health experts to prepare them to provide assistance in improving health facilities.

Motsoaledi said the department would start with four districts and 214 facilities in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, the Free State and the Northern Cape. These districts are: Zululand (KwaZulu-Natal), Sedibeng (Gauteng), Motheo Free State), and Pixley ka Seme (Northern Cape).

He said his department was also refurbishing nursing colleges and homes to increase the capacity of these colleges to produce more nurses.

In all, 122 colleges had been targeted and 49 colleges were already being refurbished.

Motsoaledi said his department was still tackling the problems of the Gauteng Provincial Health Department, particularly in its non-payment of service providers.

He said he had held conversations with the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan to ensure that provincial health departments had to fulfil certain non-negotiables when allocated funding from the Budget.

This could be for example to ensure that provincial health department's set aside allocations for such areas as immunisations of key infections, he said.

Turning to HIV and Aids, he said the mother-to child infection rate for HIV and Aids had dropped from 8 percent in 2008 to 3.5% last year, for children born to mothers infected with HIV.

This had helped to save 30 000 babies per year - most of these in KwaZulu-Natal, he said.

He also called on South Africans to get tested for HIV and Aids at least once a year.

The department would also be tackling non-communicable diseases, such as alcohol and tobacco abuse.

He said South African government's regulations against smoking had already resulted in a sharp drop in smoking over the last few years.

"We have to deal with the scourge of alcohol advertising where this is projected as product bringing success," said Motsoaledi, who pointed that adverts often depicted images of success and a depiction that drinking was "cool" for young people.

A more difficult issue, he confided, was how to get South Africans to exercise more and to mind their weight.

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