IFP: Minister of Health Must Prioritise Fixing KZN Ailing Health System

The IFP urges the Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize to put KZN Province first in his plans of fixing ailing health system in South Africa.

Minister Mkhize said one of his top priorities would be working to restore hope in South Africa’s healthcare system. Therefore, we urge him to come and fix the health system in KwaZulu-Natal which has deteriorated under former KZN MEC of Health, Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo.

Dr Dhlomo and Former Minister Aaron Motsoaledi failed dismally to address issues facing the KZN health facilities especially oncology. They both suffered from denialism of the reality, and this is what led to the unnecessary death of many cancer patients. We advise the newly elected Minister and MEC to avoid this grave mistake and address all issues with diligence instead of obsessing with denying the intensity and severity of problems faced by our people in public health facilities.

The tenure for the former KZN MEC of Health was surrounded by many challenges. The department claimed to have tried countless incremental fixes—attacking fraud, reducing errors, enforcing practice guidelines, making patients better “consumers,” but none have had much impact. Efforts to reform health care have been hobbled by lack of clarity on the goal implementation, or even by the pursuit of the wrong goal. Other problems included poor working conditions and lack of effective and regular assessments of health workers’ satisfaction.

It’s time for a fundamentally new strategy. A dire health worker shortage in South Africa’s national health programs is adversely impacting the quantity and quality of health care and posing a serious barrier to achieving Millennium Development Goals to improve population health.

If Minister Mkhize is serious about turning things around he must visit all KZN hospitals and review working conditions and resources but most importantly he must visit the Addington Hospital which has experienced serious challenges about oncology machines. He must ensure that the KZN Provincial Department of Health deals with oncology issues, waiting times, shortage of staff, shortage of ambulances and staff attitude. He must work with the KZN Premier Sihle Zikalala to ensure that the KZN MEC of Health, Nomagugu Simelane-Zulu doesn’t repeat the same mistakes happened under former MEC Dr Dhlomo which resulted to deterioration of health system under his watch.

The IFP believes that there should be an intense investment into health to afford every citizen the highest attainable standard of health. The Party believes that government should increase funding for the health sector, while at the same time cultivating healthcare partnerships with multilateral institutions and the private sector. It will be incumbent upon KwaZulu-Natal to make the necessary investment in health to achieve these goals. Even more important will be the investment of political goodwill followed by concrete words beyond the rhetoric.

The only true measures of quality are the outcomes that matter to patients.

Mrs Ncamisile Nkwanyana MPL
IFP KZN Provincial Spokesperson on Health
078 302 3991