Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and the CEOs of leading South African healthcare companies have signed an agreement strengthening public-private sector collaboration in tackling the shortage of doctors and fighting the twin scourge of HIV/Aids and TB in the country.
Companies participating in the agreement, known as the South African Joint Public Health Enhancement Fund, have already committed R40-million for the coming year.
R20-million of this will go towards helping the country's medical schools, R10-million will support HIV/Aids programmes, and R10-million will support the Academy for Leadership and Management in Health Care, launched by Motsoaledi this week.
The pact will help the government to expand South Africa's medical student intake, to support postgraduate students pursuing health-related studies, and to build additional capacity in the management of HIV/Aids and TB.
It is envisaged that, over the next 10 years, the fund will assist in the production of a substantial number of doctorates in HIV/Aids and TB.
According to the agreement, each participating company will make a fixed annual contribution to the fund. All signatory companies have committed to the fund for a period of three years, which will be followed by a review process.
Speaking at the signing ceremony in Pretoria on Thursday, Motsoaledi said the agreement set a new standard in collaboration between the public and the private sector.
"This partnership between government and the private health sector conveys a simple message that together we care about a long and healthy life for all South Africans. It is our hope that the launch of the social compact agreement will motivate many more private health care companies to join the initiative," Motsoaledi said.
The minister said that, while the challenges faced by the public health sector placed a tremendous strain on the country's resources, healthcare remained one of the government's key priorities.
Participating companies include Abbott, Alcon Labs, Aspen Pharmacare Holdings, Bausch+Lomb, Clicks Holdings, Clinics Healthcare, Litha Healthcare, Medi-Clinic, Mediscor, Medscheme, Netcare, Novo-Nordisk, Roche, United Pharmaceutical Distributors, and Servier Labs.