Blood pressure cuffs lie on a hospital bed. REUTERS/Marvin Gentry

Johannesburg - The 2014/2015 budget for the Gauteng health department is R31.5 billion, MEC Qedani Mahlangu said on Tuesday.

“The tough economic climate places an added responsibility on us to optimally use the limited resources at our disposal,” she said, tabling her budget in the Gauteng legislature in Johannesburg.

Primary health care, infrastructure, quality health care, and healthy lifestyles would be some of the department's priorities for the new year.

To accelerate provision and improvement of primary health care, the department was following the Brazilian and Cuban models.

She said the department had various infrastructure projects planned from 2014 to 2019.

“The 2014/2015 health infrastructure budget is R1.7bn; of which R629 million is allocated for capital projects and R1.1bn for maintenance work,” she said.

Mahlangu said the Gauteng infrastructure development department would be the sole implementing agent for the health department's projects.

She said the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital's staff accommodation, neo-natal ICU and labour wards would be refurbished.

The maternity and neo-natal lifts at the Helen Joseph, Kopanong, and Edenvale hospitals would be replaced.

Cosmos City, Kagiso, Randfontein, Khutsong, Lehae, and Randgate would receive new clinics, she said.

Mahlangu said her department had allocated R2.8bn for HIV and Aids prevention and treatment.

“We intend to reduce the rate of new HIV infections by 50 percent through implementation of a multi-sectoral response to HIV and TB,” she said.

The emergency medical services would get R1bn of the 2014/2015 budget.

She said 800 additional ambulances and emergency vehicles were required because the current fleet was inadequate and ageing.

The department would negotiate and form partnerships with private companies to maximise the use of ambulances.

The department would also look into leasing models.

Mahlangu said her department would work with the private sector to determine the costs of operating health care facilities.

Democratic Alliance health spokesman Jack Bloom said the party opposed the budget because it did not meet the needs of the province's people.

He said one of the biggest problems in the provincial department was budget underspending.

“I have little confidence that the budget before us will actually be adhered to,” he said.

“We lose out on money because of this department's incompetence.”