Pretoria: The roll out of the HIV/Aids and TB programme in the Free State is on track, with 11 804 patients, including 584 children, having started the fixed-dose ARV regime from 1 April last year.
Presenting a status report at a briefing on the progress made in some of the priority programmes of his department, Free State Health MEC Dr Benny Malakoane said the provincial TB screening programme, which is currently focusing on high risk groups, has also been intensified in children under five years of age.
“The Maternal, Child and Women’s Health Programme has grown in leaps and bounds. Some of its achievement include the establishment of 20 maternity waiting homes in the province; the availability of Kangaroo Mother Care at all hospitals, and the establishment of breast milk banks at Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli and Bongani Regional Hospitals, amongst others.
“The Male Medical Circumcision Programme is progressing well, with 8 435 males being circumcised,” Malakoane said on Wednesday.
Since he took office in March 2013, Malakoane has done intensive consultations with healthcare workers across the board to ensure that the department’s vision for ‘A Healthy and Long Life for All’ is embraced by all its staff.
These consultations gave Malakoane first-hand knowledge of the quality of service at health facilities, as well as insight on how to address the challenges.
“We have been to district and regional hospitals, the two academic hospitals, emergency medical services stations, the Free State Forensic Pathology Mortuary in Bloemfontein and the Medical Depot.
“During these visits, I found that these facilities had challenges with the maintenance of equipment, management of medicine and consumables, infrastructure deficiencies, telecommunication and connectivity, staff shortages etc.,” said Malakoane.
Upgrading health infrastructure
On infrastructure development, Malakoane said a variety of infrastructure development projects were underway at 12 different hospitals and six primary healthcare clinics. Three community health centres are also in various stages of completion.
The hospitals include Boitumelo Regional Hospital in Kroonstad, Pelonomi Hospital, Trompsburg, Senorita Ntlabathi District Hospital in Ladybrand, Dihlabeng Hospital in Bethlehem, the Fezi Ngubentombi District Hospital in Sasolburg, Elizabeth Ross Hospital in QwaQwa, and the new Mangaung District Hospital in Bloemfontein.
To improve the Primary Healthcare Re-engineering Programme, Malakoane said three streams – including school health services, family health and ward-based teams – were implemented.
“For the current financial year, we have increased the ward-based outreach teams from 42 to 70, and on an incremental basis, it will be increased eventually to 325.
“Some of the achievements of the integrated School Health Programme include the allocation of three mobile units meant for eye care services, oral health and primary healthcare to the Thabo Mofutsanyana district,” the MEC said.
The School Health Programme focuses on quintile 1 and 2 schools and 929 schools in the province fall in this category, with 114 814 learners involved.
The department has appointed and strengthened district specialist teams in order to boost capacity.
It is also monitoring Remunerative Work outside the Public Sector (RWOPS) in all institutions in the province.
“HR issues such as the appointment of critical categories of health staff, disciplinary procedures, human resource development and the strengthening of the nursing schools and College of Emergency Care are receiving attention,” Malakoane said.
The MEC admitted that budgetary constraints were a very real issue. In September last year, he called on all managers to curb expenditure.