MEC says change will come

d2e529dba985.jpgThe Gauteng Health Department has been riddled with problems for a long time. These range from poor financial management to the unavailability of chronic medication, among other things. But, newly appointed MEC, Hope Papo, says enough is enough and it is time his department got its house in order ‘€“ for the sake of citizens.

‘€œThe residents of Gauteng can expect that we are going to do our best to turn around the financial situation of this province’€.

The MEC says a turn-around strategy has been developed by the department in an attempt to improve matters. The strategy is aimed at addressing infrastructure development, providing a good service to people and effective management of employees. And, he says they continue to tackle the urgent issue of drug shortages in health facilities, mainly caused by the non-payment of suppliers. Papo is certain that his department will soon be out of the woods.

‘€œFor now we have paid a lot of accruals. We hope that we will pay for our current accounts – 2012 and 2013 – by March, so we don’€™t have a huge crisis again, with the support of the Gauteng government. Whatever shortfalls we are going to have because of accruals, we expect the Gauteng provincial government to support Health until we’€™re out of the water. We hope that we won’€™t go into a huge debt again’€.

Papo says cost-saving measures will be introduced. He says they will include retrieving money owed to the provincial Health Department by other government departments and spending money where they the department can make the biggest impact.

But, activist group, Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) has expressed doubt that Papo will be able to deliver. This follows a meeting the group recently had with the new MEC.

‘€œWe expected to get somebody with medical background and serving on the health portfolios etc. But he is not; I have no vote of confidence in him’€.

Mosane’€™s colleague, Sibongile Tshabalala, is of the same view.                      

‘€œHe was just an advisor in the finance portfolio in a hospital and that doesn’€™t give him much credit to say he can do the job.

If we had someone like Motsoaledi, and I know it is hard to find someone like that, that would do justice for us as residents of Gauteng’€.

The TAC predicts that the situation in Gauteng would only be worse by the end of the year.

‘€œThere is a financial crisis which simply means that somebody is corrupt in the health department or provincial treasury. We asked him about his budget and why are they using so much money before the end of the financial year? They are paying previous debts with the current budgets, which says before October the crisis will be worse’€, says Mosane.

The health crisis in Gauteng has led to many residents, most of whom rely on the public health system, to lose faith in the provincial health department.

‘€œPeople are not happy with health services. In fact, they have lost confidence in it. For instance, my neighbour is 70 years-old, she had a pain, I suggested she go to the clinic and do a pap smear because it was on her lower stomach. She said, no she went to the clinic long ago and her results are not back, she would rather go to the doctor with her pension money. Even if a person is so poor they would rather starve and spend their money going to a private doctor than our hospitals’€, says the TAC’€™s Sibongile Tshabalala.

It is this lack of confidence that MEC Hope has to restore as he assumes his new role as the MEC for Health in Gauteng.

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