KwaZulu-Natal’s ailing emergency services are going to get R419 million boost, an increase of 27, 7%.
The Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) will get 11 new bases and at least 100 new ambulances and 121 new emergency support vehicles.
This was announced by Health MEC Peggy Nkonyeni when presenting her department’s R10, 379-billion budget to the provincial legislature on Friday (6 May).
Nkonyeni said that the workload of the emergency services had increased by 34% over the past year, and that, in order to meet demand, they needed a budget increase of around 50%.
The province’s health budget increased by 16,9% this year and Nkonyeni said this was the first time since 1998/9 that there had been ‘growth in real terms’.
Nkonyeni’s budget also had good news for the province’s elderly. Special express queues for the elderly are to be developed at health facilities and there are plans to improve the diagnosis and management of chronic diseases.
‘Elderly people are becoming the backbone of communities, especially in instances where they have to look after HIV and AIDS orphans. It is important to keep them in good health for longer and ensure they have a good quality of life, said Nkonyeni.
She announced that 5 464 people benefited from the cataract programme last year and that the aim was to treat 7 000 people o between now and end of March 2006.
Children under the age of five are to be targeted for nutrition supplementation, particularly in the poverty-stricken districts of Umkhanyakude, Umzinyathi and Zululand.
‘Thirty eight percent of children under the age of six in KwaZulu-Natal have marginal Vitamin A deficiency status and 18,5 percent of children one to nine years old, were reported as stunted,’ said Nkonyeni.
The department has also decided to take over the administration of SANTA hospitals from July to run these as step-down facilities ‘to relieve the pressure in our acute care facilities’ caused by the ‘escalating burden of chronic communicable diseases’.
Through an agreement with the United Nations Development Programme, a range of foreign health workers are to volunteer in the province over the next six years, including 400 general practitioners, 172 medical specialists and 70 pharmacists.
In a bid to improve people’s access to health, all community health centres will offer 24 hr services while all clinics will open at least eight hours a day, five days a week.
However, the MEC said she was concerned about the provision of primary health care services in certain underserved areas, as there was still an estimated shortage of 200 clinics. ‘ Health-e News Service.