Cape Town - The Western Cape Health Department is set to spend nearly R1.2 billion in the 2022/23 financial year on infrastructure.
The department said in its budget it is now focusing its attention on ensuring that provincial hospitals and facilities are better maintained and pointed to allocations towards existing infrastructure needs, on which it will spend more than R631 million.
This year’s budget will see an increase of 99.2% in upgrades in addition to refurbishments and rehabilitations increasing by more than half.
The department said that in order to accommodate the Western Cape’s population growth, spending on new infrastructure assets will be 110% more than it was in 2021.
Across the central, provincial and district health services as well as other health facilities there are a number of capital infrastructure initiatives, including 29 projects in the planning stages, 31 projects in the design and tender process, and 12 projects in the construction and handover phases.
Health standing committee chairperson Wendy Kaizer-Philander (DA) said: “With the province now in the endemic phase of Covid-19, it is important that our assets continue to receive adequate investment moving forward.” She said infrastructure was an essential component in service delivery, as it was the vehicle through which the province provided residents with quality health care.
Despite the R1.2bn budget representing an increase of more than 8% in comparison to the previous year, the opposition ANC is unhappy and says the budget will not resolve the health crisis in the province.
Provincial ANC health spokesperson Rachel Windvogel said she was appalled by the department’s decision not to allocate additional funding to the Khayelitsha District Hospital, despite it having full knowledge of the challenges at the hospital.
The ANC had requested an allocation of R150m to address bed and staff shortages as well as infrastructure development at the hospital and for the speeding up of the rebuilding process of the GF Jooste Hospital.
“The MEC referred to Khayelitsha District Hospital as (a) black sheep that needed special treatment and would not be treated differently from other district hospitals. This decision will further collapse services at the hospital.”
Rejecting the budget, Windvogel said it was alarming that there were no clear time lines of when the rebuilding of the GF Jooste Hospital would commence and when it would be finalised.
She urged the department to halt its plans to close down clinics in the city, saying this would contribute to the weakening of public health care in poor communities.
However, Windvogel welcomed the allocation of funding for the National Health Insurance in the province.
“This is a step in the right direction towards the full realisation of the NHI. We welcome the commitment by the head of department that the NHI grant will be fully spent.”