Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

How Gordhan’s expenditure cuts could affect health targets

Finance minister Pravin Gordhan's "careful control of the wage bill" and expenditure on goods and services that he announced in his mid-term budget speech on Wednesday will impact negatively on health service delivery, said health economist Daygan Eager from the Rural Health Advocacy Project at the University of the Witwatersrand.

"If measures aren't taken to deal with the provincial management crisis, it could mean that the health department might not be able to appoint enough health professionals within a short time frame for its National Health Insurance [NHI] scheme. The department will also face restrictions with the purchase of medical supplies," Eager said.

Eager added that it's not clear where the additional funds needed for the NHI and upgrading of health facilities in particularly rural areas such as the Eastern Cape will come from.

"The Rural Health Advocacy project fights for increased resources in such areas so that services can be improved. The current economic climate is therefore of concern to us."

R491 893-million was budgeted for the NHI for the current financial year – Gordhan's mid-term budget adjusted this amount to R488 865-million.

Drawing up budgets
In the coming weeks, provincial health departments will draw up budgets based on the Gordhan's review. "We're likely to see that provincial budget expenditure won't increase sufficiently," Eager said.

The review shows that the health department is falling behind on its cure rate target of 85% for lung TB patients per year – for the first half of the current financial year the rate stands at 75.2%. The performance is, however, an improvement compared to previous years.

The expansion of the government's antiretroviral treatment programme for people with HIV is showing a strong performance with 221 498 of the annual target of 500 000 patients initiated on treatment for the first six months of the financial year.

According to the review, the late start of antenatal care remains a challenge; just more than half (52.5%) of pregnant women accessed antenatal care during the first four weeks of pregnancy, compared to an annual target of 60%.

"The health department is addressing this challenge through the appointment of ward-based outreach teams that will improve access at community level," the review states.

In the first four months of 2013/14, 2.7 of babies born to HIV positive mothers tested positive for the virus – slightly above the target of 2% of the state's prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV programme. 

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Mia Malan
Mia Malan
Mia Malan is Bhekisisa's editor-in-chief and executive director. Malan has won more than 20 African journalism awards for her work and is a former fellow of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford University.

Related stories


If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here


Subscribers only

DA’s egregious sexual harassment case finally begins

The party is accused of protecting a councillor, who’s also implicated in R1.2m graft

The ANC, DA and EFF ‘oblivious’ to climate crisis —...

The Climate Justice Charter Movement has critiqued the manifestos of the main parties contesting the local government elections and found them ‘shallow’

More top stories

Bird flu outbreak on Dyer Island causing mass deaths

The island hosts the vulnerable African penguins, endangered bank cormorant and roseate tern

Countries bear cross-border responsibility for harmful effects of climate change,...

The UN committee has been accused of ‘turning its back’ on the children who filed a groundbreaking legal complaint with it against five countries

Magashule files notice to have corruption charges dropped

Counsel for the suspended ANC secretary general tells court the former Free State premier falls outside category of who can be charged for corrupt activities

R1.5-billion in funding approved for riot-hit businesses

Agencies emphasise that speed is crucial to rescuing firms affected by July’s unrest

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…