The North West province’s response to the state of health services delivered to its people is one area commended by opposition parties.
Progress has been made across all sectors of health care, resulting in a more functional system better able to respond to this critical area of service delivery.
One of the key measures of success has been the decrease in mother-to-child transmission of HIV from 8.5% in 2008, to 2.7% in 2013.
Premier Thandi Modise also noted in her State of the Province address that the infant mortality rate had fallen from 40 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2009, to 30 by 2011, while maternal mortality had been reduced from 189/100 000 live births to 181/100 000 live births.
The MEC for Health in the province, Dr Magome Masike, is clearly delighted with the progress although he admits that the biggest challenge remains in emergency service response times.
“We are looking to diversify our ambulance services to provide specialised services,” he said.
“Maternal mortality is an issue and we are buying ambulances specifically to transport women who are about to deliver and there are 10 of them are on their way.”
Overall, the province has increased its fleet of emergency medical rescue vehicles from 40 in 2009 by an additional 130.
Masike said that physical infrastructure remains a challenge, but that the new state-of-the-art district hospitals in Brits and Vryburg will alleviate some of this pressure.
“The quality of infrastructure we are putting in place is meant to prepare for the quality health care we envisage when we kick in the national health insurance. We won’t compromise on that,” he said.
The improvements in physical infrastructure has been matched by bolstering the human resources, with more than 1 000 nurses trained in the past two years while the intake of medical students has grown by 1 000%.
“It is costing us money, but we are taking human resources very seriously,” the MEC said.
He said the province’s successful treatment of an extreme drug-resistant TB (XDRTB) patient as an example of the approach to decentralise and distribute expertise to areas of need.
“We have been able to decentralise XDRTB treatment from Klerksdorp, and we now have Taung and are opening one in Rustenburg and another in Mafikeng in the near future.
“It is a management strategy of centralising expertise where we need it most and training the rural and outlying areas, so once we are ready we can roll it out to those areas.”
He said that central to his department’s success has been viewing health issues as societal issues by creating a direct feedback loop to his office through committees and forums at the places of healthcare delivery.
“They can advise us because they experience the healthcare we are delivering and they are the ones who tell us when drug dispensing takes longer than it should, they tell me about the attitude of our nurses and cleanliness and security at our clinics. So it is a network into the community where they start to take ownership of the health care system. I spend my time in communities, I’m hardly ever in the office,” he said.
This article forms part of the supplement paid for by the North West office of the Premier. Contents and photographs were supplied and signed off by the ofiice