Media release

Social Sector Cluster media briefing

18 February 2014

18 FEBRUARY 2014


Thank you for joining us this morning.

We have a good story to tell in the improvement of health care:  So said President Jacob Zuma in the State of the Nation Address.
Indeed we do have a good story to tell.

After democracy dawned on our Land in 1994, we had to start by abolishing 14 different health departments with different resources, different ethos and cultures, different qualities and actually worlds apart from each other.

Inevitably, access to health services had to take a central role.  It should be mentioned that many areas, especially black rural areas, did not even have primary health care facilities in the form of clinics.

Hence a lot of clinics were constructed in the rural areas under a special programme foreseen at the National level but implemented at Provincial level.  Today, more than 40% of all clinics existing in SA were built after Tata Nelson Mandela became our first democratically elected President.

Hence stats S.A. reports in 2012 that the number of people who go directly to clinics increased from 44,5% in 2004 to 55,6% in 2012.  We believe that his indicates an increase access to primary healthcare facilities.

We have mentioned that under NHI, Primary healthcare will be the heartbeat of the healthcare system.   Hence we wish to announce that we shall within the next five years build a minimum of 213 new clinics.  We shall in the same period refurbish and re-equip 870 clinics in the 11 pilot districts of NHI.

To facilitate a seamless referral system upwards, we shall supplement this by building 43 brand new hospitals. 

Of course there will be a question on human resources for health.  A healthcare system has six (6) building blocks according to the World Health Organisation.  Staffing (Human Resources for Health) is one of those building blocks.

The democratic government was compelled to come up with community service as one of the strategies to increase staffing in rural areas.  As of January 2014, a total of 44 000 community service health professional have been placed in remote, rural and underserved areas.  Since the introduction of community service in 1998.

This has greatly increased access to health care.  We have asked our medical schools to try and over stretch themselves and we are happy that they have obliged.  In 2012, 220 additional medical students, who would ordinarily not be admitted to medical schools, were actually enrolled.  This figure increased to 425 across our medical schools.

Today, we have 2074 South African students from rural areas and disadvantaged backgrounds studying medicine in Cuba.  This was after deciding to upgrade the programme from the traditional 60 students per annum at inception of the programme to about a 1000 per annum since 2012.

Though our Public Health Enhancement Fund landed jointly by myself and 24 private sector health establishment CEOs. In private sector health entities in 2012, we are targeting to produce 1000 PHDs in 10 years time.  In 2012 we have enrolled 13 PHDs from this fund and we enrolled a further 24 by the end of 2013.  These were mostly in the field of HIV/AIDS and TB research.

The President announced that by 2016, the number of people enrolled in ARV’s will increase from the present 2,4 million to a massive 4,6 million.  Added to this the number of explosive of NCD’s – Hypertension, Diabetes mellitus and cancer,  the number of drugs that will need to be registered through our regulatory Authority, the MCC (Medical Control Council) is staggering.

But none of South Africans Universities offers any course in regulatory medicine.  Hence we shall establish this year an institution for regulatory medicine to start with 35 students who have Masters Degrees in Science.  I will ask the DG to elaborate on this issue.

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