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Indirect references to recently well-publicised events such as the Mamelodi Hospital incident and the Alexander shut-down in one of his first, if not first public appearance since his appointment as Minister of Health earlier this month, Dr Zweli Mkhize has given some indication that he is under no illusion about the tasks ahead in his newfound position. The real problem at the moment, Mkhize told KZN Doctor Healthcare Coalition (KZNDHC) annual conference banquet guests at the weekend, was an economic situation under strain exacerbated by inequality. Citing the Alexander shutdown debacle as an example – “people living in absolute squalor only a kilometre away from the richest square kilometre of real estate on the continent” – people, he said, just look at this and say “wow, something has to be done”. Same, he added, applied to the country’s healthcare services: ““Having a successful private sector with a failing public sector hasn’t and doesn’t work. For one to work, the other has to make a contribution one way or the other. “There has to be collaboration, co-ordination and integration between the private and public health sectors to improve the lives of all South Africans,’ he stressed, reiterating the theme of this year’s KZNDHC Conference. Among the main challenges facing the country’s healthcare services was that people still expected a lot more than what the country had to offer. Until the economy improved this would continue to be a problem “for our kids growing up” and on how to cope with the increasing demands on health services. “National Health Insurance (NHI) is fundamental to the problem of inequality and without achieving this, we won’t be addressing the inequalities. “The debate for and against NHI has gone. Concentration must now be on implementation, starting with what can be done in terms of existing resources,” Mkhize continued, alluding in particular to the unequal relationship between the public and private sectors. “In the public sector there are a lot of things that have to be fixed and we need to figure out how this has to be done. Our biggest problem is staff shortages. How, in the same system, can we find additional resources to match staffing requirements to meet service needs?” At this point he referred to his recent visit to Mamelodi Hospital which he found to be “totally over-run” with an over-burdened staff complement: “I could only sympathise with the staff.” Issues like these had to be dealt with, but at departmental level, he pointed out, this was difficult due to strained resources and having to compete in this regard with other necessities being faced by the country at large: “How do we here, therefore, find a solution together to deal with these issues?” Mkhize asked. “There has to be way to enable our systems, both private and public, to co-operate, co-ordinate, and be integrated somehow to get to a point where we all invest in the same system. We are, after all, dealing with the same population, be they public or private, so somewhere down the line,” the minister urged his predominantly private sector doctor audience, ”we have to talk more. “Our doors are open. Let’s keep talking!”
Created at 2019/07/02 02:48 PM by Mediclinic
Last modified at 2019/07/02 02:48 PM by Mediclinic