/ 20 February 2008

Gauteng health gets security and technology boost

Crime-hit hospitals in Gauteng should have security as soon as March, provincial health minister Brian Hlongwa announced on Wednesday.

”We have completed an audit aimed at identifying risks at health facilities,” he said during a Gauteng legislature social-cluster briefing outlining priorities in the coming year.

He said the procurement of security services has been undertaken at the Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, the Dr George Mukhari (Garankuwa) Hospital in Pretoria, and the Johannesburg Hospital.

”Chris Hani-Baragwanath Hospital, in particular, has procured additional security teams while awaiting the implementation measures,” he said.

A patient was killed and a hospital employee was wounded in a shooting at the hospital in November. In August, a student doctor was attacked and raped on the hospital’s grounds while on her way to the blood bank.

Hlongwa also announced moves to train more nurses at the reopened, revamped Bona Lesedi nursing college, at Leratong Hospital, and the Coronation nursing college.

In addition, 937 new emergency medical services staff would be appointed — 830 of them emergency care practitioners at basic, intermediate and advanced life-support levels — and 173 replacement vehicles had been ordered.

Projects being piloted include wheelchair patient transport, a dedicated cardiac ambulance and a mobile critical-care unit.

Hlongwa said Gautengers could have their medical histories recorded on smart cards soon. Technology able to read such cards will be installed in 30% of the province’s health facilities by this time next year, he said, describing the existing system as ”archaic”.

The cards will contain, among others, a person’s blood group, medical history and allergies, and will be issued to both the healthy and ill. Hlongwa was confident that the cards will go a long way towards reducing waiting times in clinics, community health centres and hospitals.

They will also enable referrals from clinics to hospitals and assist in building a better demographic profile of people using the province’s health facilities.

Concerning HIV/Aids, he said multiple therapy for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV in pregnant women will start next month, and that antiretroviral therapy will be available at 55 sites by the end of next month.

Efforts to fight tuberculosis and its extremely drug-resistant strain are also being intensified. — Sapa