July 29, 2004

Minister launches strategy to improve health system

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has launched a five-year strategy to improve the country's national health system. The Strategy contains among other things, priorities for the health system including the related new vision and mission and dealing with diseases such as HIV and Tuberculosis as well as situation analysis to highlight achievements and challenges of the department. Tshabalala-Msimang said that the department also hoped to improve health status through the prevention of diseases and promotion of health lifestyles and to consistently improve the health care delivery system by focusing on access, equity, efficiency, quality and sustainability. She listed 10 priorities that should lead the department to achieving its vision of an accessible, caring and high quality health system. "I must stress that it does not mean that if a particular health matter is not on the list of priorities, the Department will ignore it," the minister explained. According to her, government has prioritised the strengthening of the management and governance of the national health system as well as human resource planning, development and management. "The health system is labour intensive and more than 60 percent of our budget is spent on personnel. This means that we must strengthen the management of this resource," she explained. On health workers, she said this sector was central to the delivery of health services. For that reason, government was determined to recruit and retain adequate numbers of health workers to provide these services. "We are intensifying our effort to improve the working conditions and ensure a fulfilling career growth within the health system. The department has also put primary health care, the emergency medical services and hospitals into one set of priorities. "We have done this deliberately. Patients must not experience any barriers to access to care regardless of who provides this service be it provincial or local government or the private health sector." (Bua News, Pretoria)


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