18 February 2018

South Africa: Gauteng Health On Improving Healthcare Service

press release

Innovation and health research summit examines ways of improving healthcare service in Gauteng

On Thursday and Friday, the Gauteng Department of Health hosted a two day Health Research and Innovation Summit in Boksburg, Ekurhuleni as part of the concerted efforts to ensure service delivery improvements across the board.

The summit saw approximately 300 stakeholders from government, NGO's, academia and international bodies such as the World Health Organisation converging to plan an effective public health care system in Gauteng under the theme "Evidence and innovation for long and healthy lives: confronting risks and unlocking the potentials."

In her opening remarks, MEC for Health, Dr Gwen Ramokgopa said: "This theme speaks directly to the mission of the Department of Health to create an effective public health care system in Gauteng by ensuring that we have the right people, skills, systems and equipment to provide the care our patients need to live healthy, quality lives."

MEC Ramokgopa further emphasised that "2018 marks the year when we look to science, innovation, evidence and scaling up best practices to confront our challenges. "'That is why you are here as delegates and participants - health professionals, researchers, managers, academics, private sector representatives, indigenous health practitioners and health care users - to work collaboratively and create a model of co-production whereby evidence enters into our daily practice in this province", added the MEC.

MEC's sentiments were echoed by acting Head of the Department Prof Mkhululi Lukhele who said the two day summit was a unique event as nothing like it has ever happened in the province before where various stakeholders came together to chart a way forward.

"This exciting combination has been something of a "scientific experiment", to study how we can inject 'evidence and innovation' into ensuring that the residents of our province lead 'long and healthy lives'," said acting Head of the Department Prof Mkhululi Lukhele.

"The Department's commitment to doing things differently continues. We heard reports-back from 12 break-away sessions. Each of our colleagues had proposed concrete steps to do things better, efficiently and more effectively, by incorporating new knowledge and integrating proven best practises. We can no longer afford not to pay attention to what the éxperts' are advising us.

"We need to embrace participatory evaluation and evidence which are largely provided by health care users and clients as evaluators of health interventions as well as evidence from other forms of social science research. Both formally recognised experts as well as voices that we tend not to think are 'expert' enough: people living with their diseases as well as indigenous and alternative health systems and practices - all of which, of course, must be subjected to further scrutiny - but we need to pay attention," said Prof Lukhele.

The Chair of the Scientific Programme Committee, who also heads the Provincial Health Research Committee, Prof Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven, said the delegates examined the most critical challenges facing the health sector, across three different themes: the integrated management of communicable and non-communicable diseases; novel approaches to preparing for National Health Insurance; and, patient-centred non-clinical functions. Twelve different breakaway sessions came up with concrete plans of action over the next 12 months to address: non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and hypertension, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, mental health, maternal and women's health, child health, emergency medical services, radiation medicine services, pharmacy services, employee health and wellness, supply chain Management, and health care financing.

"These 12 action plans will now guide future departmental activities, aligning them with the best evidence, as well as infuse innovations that are relevant and locally sourced. We are confident that new bonds have been forged between the research community, users of services and the department of health that will translate into post-Summit improvements in health care delivery and quality. This was an inaugural event, whereby transparency about departmental targets can be subjected to public scrutiny--and research about best practices can be shared for everyone's benefit. We look forward to next year when we can return and demonstrate measurable results; but, we've definitely got our work cut out for us in the meantime', concluded Professor Laurel Baldwin-Ragaven.

Amongst the participants were Dr Rufaro Chatora, the World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in South Africa, who delivered a plenary address on the Social Determinants of Health; Dr Suvajee Good also from WHO who gave a workshop on the 'Health in All Policies' project; Dr Rajesh Narwal from the WHO country office; and, Prof Davide Croce from the LIUC university in Italy who gave a workshop on Health Technology Assessment. Mr Derek Kunanka from John Snow, the Measure Evaluation Project-Afro, was also in attendance. Other plenary speakers included: Prof Laetitia Rispel who addressed the need for accountability in light of recent public health tragedies such as Life Esidimeni; Prof Eric Buch who advocates for more research into human resources for health; and, Prof Richard Gordon whose presentation showcased concrete examples of publically funded local innovations that address local needs in our country.

Issued by: Gauteng Health

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