Healthcare in our country finds itself at an extremely difficult point. Even before the advent of Covid-19, our public health resources and infrastructure were not equal to the task of health provision in the country. In every respect, South Africa remains unequal in the provision of healthcare, which is a universal and constitutional human right.
In addition to these pressures, our healthcare services must contend with several regional and global challenges, such as illegal foreign nationals, escalating humanitarian emergencies, climate change and environmental degradation.
Most importantly, we are not over the Covid-19 crisis, and as we are about to enter this winter season, we are already noticing an upwards movement in respect of positive Covid cases. This will place our public healthcare system under renewed stress, which may last for the next decade, and which is why it is very important that we build a resilient and effective healthcare system.
As a part of this resilience building, we must ensure not only human resources such as our medical professionals, doctors and nurses but also medical equipment equity in all areas of South Africa. Why does the HPCSA still make it so difficult for our foreign qualified medical doctors to enter professional medical practice in South Africa, given that we currently have vacant posts for 1 339 doctors? What are we doing to prevent our medical professionals from leaving South Africa to practice medicine in other countries? We have 10800 vacancies for nurses. Why are there shortages of medical cancer treatment in our rural areas? Why do our public hospitals continuously run out of necessary consumables, like anti-bacterial cleaning products or do not even have hot water, or, in some cases – any water at all?
In such uncertain times, why do we not have sufficient capacity in respect of mental healthcare facilities? And why are not using this period when we are all so heavily reliant on technology, to medically innovate in the healthcare field? How are we improving our public healthcare ICT capacity and what are we doing in order to ensure that all of our hospitals and clinics have alternative electricity capacity, as I think we can all agree that Eskom has truly failed us and it is only going to get worse.
Chairperson, audit outcomes of KwaZulu-Natal and the Northern Cape provinces require immediate intervention, as there has been little or no improvement over the past five years by these health departments, whose audits remain ‘qualified’. Unauthorised expenditure, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure are highest in the Eastern Cape and Gauteng. Why is this so? Let me tell you, Chairperson: it is because there is no consequence management. Departmental officials can do as they please and disregard tender and procurement regulations.
It is criminal that health infrastructure projects are delayed due to mismanagement, and poor oversight and project management, especially given the unequal distribution of healthcare infrastructure in our rural areas.
In conclusion, Honourable Chairperson, healthcare equity must be prioritised by this government, and the digital transformation of the public healthcare system must be embraced in order to innovate, transform and build resilience into the sector.
Universal access to healthcare must be available to all South Africans and the NHI must be implemented in a model that is financially sustainable and achievable.
The IFP supports the Budget Vote.
I thank you.