By Hon. Narend Singh MP
Delivered at Parliament in the National Assembly
15 May 2018
Vote 16: Health
Our provinces are failing our citizens in terms of the provision of efficient and reliable health care services. By the Ministers own admission last year and in respect of the Human Rights Commissions damning findings in regard to the treatment of cancer patients in the province of KwaZulu Natal, the underlying causes were identified weaknesses in provincial human resource processes and anomalies in supply chain management systems.
In the North West province, provincial health had to be placed under administration. Patients at hospitals in this province are being denied treatment and hospitals arehaving to be shutdown. Staff are being intimidated and prevented from attending work. The net result being that the citizens suffer and are denied access to medicine and medical services.
It has been reported that South Africa which has a steadily increasing demand for medical services due to growing numbers of patients suffering from a variety of illnesses such as HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, psychiatric illness or who have been the victims of violent crime, are simply unable to receive immediate medical attention due to amongst other critical factors, the shortage of medical professionals at our public hospitals. Yet we continue to stem the flow of foreign qualified doctors back into South Africa.
In a member’s statement I delivered earlier this year in this House, I expressed growing concerns and complaints by South African students who had completed their medical degrees abroad over an HPCSA enforcement in 2018 of a 2009 regulation, which until then had not been enforced and which now required our foreign qualified doctors to undertake internships in their country of study in order for them to be eligible to sit our South African medical board exams.
The Minister to his credit listened and these students have now been able to sit their board exams. Thank you Minister but there remains much work to be done.
Our Foreign qualified doctors, who have been trained in Cuba are brought back to SA in their 6th year and complete their final year of studies in accredited medical institutions. They then sit the board after they have been well prepared for the kind of medical practice they will experience domestically, and after passing the board exams receive internship at one our public hospitals. There is proper integration of these students to familiarise them with South African Health care conditions.
Surely this same system can be replicated for all South African foreign qualified medical doctors if necessary.
Hon. Minister there have been some good developments but there is still unfinished business, there are still a plethora of administrative and bureaucratic issues at the HPCSA that must be attended to. For example, nobody responds to correspondence. I have raised a particular issue with the Medical and Dental Professions Board on the 18th April and have still not received the courtesy of a response.
There are also issues in regard to students currently in the “pipeline” in their studies and we look forward to having a meeting with you, Hon Minister and the HSPCA during the upcoming recess period in order to see how we can bring resolve to the many outstanding issues in this regard.
In respect of the Medical Innovation Bill, which it was agreed we would regulate, I must commend the Medicines Control Council on the licencing process, which I’m advised is very efficient and that assistance is provided and queries attended to. I do hear though that the “one size fits all” approach to the application should rather be split between growers and manufacturers as not all growers wish to be manufacturers and the manufacturing licence requirements on the application should then not be applicable to them. This is confusing the process and should be looked at.
The IFRP supports this budget vote debate.
I thank you.
Hon Narend Singh, MP