Speeches

Private Public Health Forum 2015

13 February 2015

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be addressing you this afternoon- my debut appearance at the Private Public Health Forum.

Coincidentally, this is also Prof Househam’s last meeting with you.

While this is certainly not him and I’s last engagement, I would like to thank him for invaluable contribution to this forum over his time here.

His wealth of experience will undoubtedly be missed.

I would also like to thank the Tygerberg Partnership and the Biotic Health Corporation for their contribution here this afternoon.

Having listened and observed our interactions here today I am reminded of the importance of the kind of partnership we are constantly trying to cultivate with the private sector.

Colleagues, the work that we do requires us all to come to the table and so nothing gives me greater pleasure than addressing you this afternoon to share my vision not only for health in the province but also this forum.

About three weeks ago I launched my vision for health in the province where I shared my intention to place the promotion of wellness on my priority list.

This, I intend to do by making 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 lifestyle.

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 be a suggestion in the health profession, 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, this 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 also requires implementation component where we channel time and resources into bringing healthcare to the people.

These examples include our collaboration with the private sector to roll out five state-of-the-art Wellness Mobile Vehicles last year.

The Wellness Mobile are the transversal project of the Department of Education and Health which began to travel across the Western Cape screening Grade R and 1 learners for vision, speech, hearing or skin problems.

We would not have been able to make this a possibility had it not been for the generosity of the business sector who decided to invest in these Wellness Mobiles with the Western Cape Government.

Through the work of the Business Development Unit and our partnership with you, we have been able to roll out incredible, innovative, projects to the people of the Western Cape such as:

  • The paediatric wing of the Victoria Hospital which will go a long way to assist thousands of children. This was provided to us by the Ackerman Foundation and Children’s Hospital Trust.
  • The upgrades that have been done at the Red Cross Children’s Hospital through the wonderful work of the Foundation and our partnership with you;
  • The donation of the new MRI machine in Groote Schuur by the University of Cape Town
  • And the brand new Mossel Bay Clinic being built by Petro SA.

Through this crucial partnership, we have been able to deliver services to the people of the Western Cape in a way that far exceeds our expectations.

With the increasing budgetary constraints that continue to grip the public service, we can no longer sustain a delivery model that is centred on government funding alone.

This is why the whole society approach which includes strong private-public partnerships is essential to strengthening our healthcare system.

We need our private companies and organisations to invest in our projects in order to build a healthier South Africa on all fronts.

Nurturing the future of this country cannot be placed on elected governments alone.

Civils society, business, religious organisations, NGOs and NPOs all need to come to the table where decisions about the future of this country are made.

It is my commitment to you that during my time in office I am to cultivate this partnership, expand its reach and make it easier for our partners to be able to contribute to our projects.

My door will always be open and my office, alongside the Business Development Unit will work with me in realising this vision.

The work that we do with this partnership is important. We are able to bring specialists to children who wouldn’t be able to see a doctor, a dentist or an optometrist until it was too late.

We are able to give hope to those who have been hamstrung by socio-economic circumstances.

Let us work together for a healthier Western Cape.

 

Media Enquiries: 

Colleen Smart
 Media Liaison Officer
 Western Cape Ministry of Health
 Tel: 021 483 5862
 Email: Colleen.Smart@westerncape.gov.za
www.westerncape.gov.za