MEC for Health, Phophi Ramathuba hosted a post budget breakfast session at a venue in the city on Friday where the budget was interrogated by a panel that included Thanyani Mariba, cardiologist and former Campus Rector of the Vaal Campus of the North-West University. “We cannot sit back and expect government to do everything for us. We should get involved and hold the department accountable for the things that they have promised,” Mariba said. In conclusion, Mariba urged departments to include the word “maintain” into their vocabulary to ensure that assets are kept in working order.
Ramathuba tabled her department’s 2017/18 budget totaling R18 billion in the Limpopo Legislature in Lebowakgomo last Thursday.
The theme of the budget was ‘Our health is our responsibility’ and income is sourced from R15,4 billion equitable shares, R2,4 billion conditional grants and R183,9 million from own revenue. The total budget increased with 5,5% from the 2016/17 financial year. Equitable shares increased by 4,3% and conditional grants by 14,6%.
An amount of R508,1 million is set aside for the health facilities revitalisation programme and R201 million has been allocated for bursaries covering doctors studying in Cuba. The department also plans to recruit ten medical specialists, 200 doctors and 250 professional nurses.
Construction of six clinics and hospital staff accommodation in Mokopane will also commence, five clinics will be completed and another three will be opened in partnership with Anglo Platinum.
R119 million is budgeted for the improvement of information technology infrastructure, revenue enhancement strategies and purchasing of medical equipment for hospitals and primary healthcare facilities. This allocation will bring an end to missing files, according to Ramathuba. She also announced that all clinics and community health centres will in future operate on a 24-hour basis in an effort to reduce the bottlenecks that are currently experienced.
Ramathuba expressed her concern about the increased burden on health services as a result of non-communicable or lifestyle diseases. “The incidence of hypertension which was at 10,5 per 1 000 in 2014 has increased to 18,5 per 1 000 in 2015, and the diabetes incidence has increased from 2,3 to 2,6. These are preventable conditions with disabling complications and are expensive to manage,” Ramathuba reported and added that the department managed to screen 4,1 million people during the 2016/17 financial year for both diabetes and hypertension. “We are encouraged by the increase in the number of people eager to know their status regarding these silent killers,” Ramathuba said. Ramathuba called upon all citizens to spend at least 30 minutes three times a week exercising. “We appeal to the captains of industries to allow their employees time to exercise. This investment will in the long term reduce absenteeism, create a more productive workforce and grow our economy,” Ramathuba urged.
Story, photos & video: BARRY VILJOEN