Leewenhof Business Breakfast
A very good morning to the Premier of the Western Cape, Helen Zille.
Thank you for opening up your home and hosting us this morning.
Greetings to our esteemed guests who have taken the time to with us this morning.
And warm welcome to our hardworking officials from the Department of Health and the Department of the Premier.
Ladies and gentlemen, when I stepped into the big shoes of my predecessor, Minister Theuns Botha, I presented my vision for health in the Western Cape.
Topping my list was wellness, particularly the shift from curative measures to a preventative approach to health.
I have advocated that we begin to rethink our definition of health:
It should no longer be the absence of disease, but the promotion of a well-balanced and healthy life.
While this may seem like a noble endeavour, it is a message that we need to start taking to the people that we serve because the public health system is under immense pressure.
The health portfolio claims a large portion of the fiscus both provincially and nationally.
This can be attributed to a number of reasons which range from socio-economic circumstances to lifestyle choices.
Preventive measures can no longer to a suggestion in the health system, they need to be tangible, implementable strategies as a matter of urgency.
With the growing number of people who depend on us for healthcare, we need to relook at our overall strategy in order to ensure that the little that we have, goes a long way.
The public health system in the province services 74% of people who live in the Western Cape, a figure that continues to rise.
As the Western Cape Government, we have ascertained that majority of those who use our services and facilities fall within the broad category of what we call the quadruple burden of disease.
These include non-communicable diseases and mental health; communicable diseases such as HIV/TB; maternal/child health and injuries.
To efficiently deal with the growing demand for quality healthcare, we have had to prioritise and allocate our resources along these categories.
This is the reason why we intend to place greater emphasis on creating awareness around leading healthy lifestyles in order to prevent diseases of this kind.
While the Health department in the Western Cape is among the best performers in the country, we will not be able to sustain our delivery record if we focus on curative efforts and less on preventative measures.
My department will be working with me in putting the spotlight on wellness across the Western Cape.
However, this is no small feat. Preventing chronic illnesses through preventative measures is a strategy that requires the buy in of our patients so that they can begin to take full responsibility of their lives and their health.
However, strategy has many moving parts:
The one is the educational component where we bring the message of healthy living to every corner of this province. This requires us to walk into churches, community halls, schools and shopping malls. This means we need to rethink our strategy of reaching as many people as possible. This strategy also requires the understanding be mindful that service delivery of this kind requires a whole-society approach. The support from communities, NGOs, universities, entrepreneurs and other spheres of government will go a long way.