The breakfast session was organised by SACC Limpopo. TAC and DENOSA were invited to come and present regarding the challenges of health in the province. The Treatment Action Campaign’s area of focus was on HIV and AIDS services, while DENOSA focused on the vacancy rate of health professionals as well as the working environment and ethical concerns within the healthcare system.
The organisation presented about the continual stock outs from its provincial supplier system from the depo to the facility. It currently takes too long for the medication to reach the intended destinations, which can have adverse effects for people who are unable to get their ARVs and develop drug resistances as a result. We also have touched on the issue of unqualified hospital CEOs, as well as the lack of involvement by civil society organisations.
Our DENOSA comrades demanded to know what interventions the national department is implementing to deal with the vacancy rates of doctors and nurses.
The Minister of Health replied by acknowledging some the challenges raised and said that Limpopo’s health challenges are the result of several known problems:
1. Management : Poor management of the health care system . He stated that public health care is being commercialised, which has led to the visibility of more corporate positions within hospitals, such as CEOs instead of healthcare providers. Limpopo and EC are the most affected provinces with cadre deployment . The department has begun the process of uprooting all the unqualified cadres and has started employing qualified CEOs in their place. There are currently seven hospitals left in Limpopo that need these appointments. All the currently appointed CEOs underwent an orientation at the end of May.
2. Tenderpreneurship/Procurement: BEE has been a poison to our health system. When someone get a tender, what comes first? Service or empowerment? The health care system in South Africa is being replaced by the tender care system. The intervention to combat this is that the department is looking into centralising the procurement system to avoid delays from suppliers on treatment issues raised by TAC, as well as tendering with people’s lives.
3. Burden of diseases: The current double burden of diseases is unparalleled.
NHI’s “so-called crisis in hospitals in Limpopo, particularly the shortage of medicines in hospitals and clinics, has absolutely nothing to do with money. It is an abject failure in management.” This is how South Africa’s Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, opened his address.
Disputing generally held perceptions that insufficient budget was responsible for shortages of medicines and a general crisis in hospitals and clinics, Motsoaledi was surgical in his approach. He demonstrated how poor management, corrupt procurement processes and a heavy burden of diseases have afflicted the Rainbow Nation.
Motsoaledi emphasized how health institutions collapsed in Limpopo as a result of appointing unqualified CEOs to run hospitals. “It is strange that in this province you allowed teachers to run hospitals while you would actually revolt if a nurse were appointed to run a school.”
The minister promised to visit again sometime to speak about the NHI with civil society organisations and to address some of challenges mentioned in the sitting since they required more time. He further linked TAC to the newly appointed administrator for health services in Limpopo to source out the database of all newly appointed CEOs for the purposes of further advocacy measures.