Eastern Cape Health Department Unveils Major Plans

Pretoria - Eight clinics and two hospitals in the OR Tambo District in the Eastern Cape will be demolished and rebuilt from scratch, Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi announced on Thursday.

Motsoaledi unveiled massive plans to turn around the health care system in the Eastern Cape, particularly the OR Tambo District, which is among the 11 districts piloting the National Health Insurance (NHI).

Detailing the plans, Motsoaledi noted that both the national Health Department and National Treasury are aware of the major health, financial and resources challenges in the Eastern Cape, especially in OR Tambo.

"We chose it [OR Tambo] as a pilot, specifically because we wanted to take that opportunity to fix a multiplicity of problems the district is experiencing," he said.

OR Tambo has 197 health facilities covering 167 clinics, 12 community health centres, 13 district hospitals, two regional hospitals and three specialised hospitals.

Among the eight clinics to be demolished, five of them will be built during this financial year and contractors will be on site by January 2014.

Motsoaledi said the appointment of professional service providers for Bambisana Hospital will be finalised on 1 December 2013 and in January 2014 for Zithulele Hospital, while the contractors will be on site for Bambisana and Zithulele Hospitals in May 2014 and June 2014 respectively.

"Two nursing colleges [Butterworth Nursing College and Madzine-Ka-Zulu Nursing College] will be refurbished to full functionality. The contractors will be on site by October 2013 and the completion date is envisaged to be March 2014."

Motsoaledi said the costing work is being done and will be completed for all the NHI pilot districts by November 2014. However, because the OR Tambo District is being given top priority, the costing will have to be completed by the end of this year so that the process of appointing contractors can begin.

He said that the national Health Department was working around the clock with the provincial Department of Health to improve infrastructure in the rest of the province.

"We are implementing 287 projects covering new additions, upgrade, renovation and maintenance works in 132 facilities. One hundred and fifty-nine of these projects are at construction phase, while the rest are at developmental phase.

"These facilities cover 106 primary health care (PHC) facilities, eight nursing colleges, while the others are hospitals. A total amount of R1.045 billion has been budgeted for this work up to the end of the financial year," Motsoaledi said.

He reiterated that the work of rebuilding the Eastern Cape Health Department had been going on for some time.

In May 2013, both Motsoaledi and Deputy Health Minister Dr Gwen Ramokgopa spent four hours with the Executive Council in Bisho.

"Two weeks ago, a new HOD was appointed. He was working here at the head office. After a long time of [having an] acting position, the Eastern Cape has got a permanent CFO and a permanent Deputy Director-General for Human Resources.

"I have just spoken to the new HOD this week to prioritise appointments in the directorate of pharmaceutical services," Motsoaledi said.

A relieved Motsoaledi also announced that the adverts for the new CEO positions in a number of hospitals, which have been delayed in the Eastern Cape, are out and will be appearing in the media in the next few days.

Gabi Khumalo
- SAnews.gov.za