Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Photo: Cindy Waxa
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Photo: Cindy Waxa

Minister seeks private doctors

By Colleen Dardagan and Lungelo Mkamba Time of article published May 28, 2012

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Hundreds of private sector doctors in KZN have been asked to set aside four hours a week to work in under-staffed public clinics, according to national Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

Briefing doctors on Sunday, on three KZN National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot-scheme projects, Motsoaledi said general practitioners in these areas were being asked to work in clinics of their choice and would be paid by the state.

“We have asked them to give up a minimum of four hours a week, but we are hoping they will give us four hours a day. We want them to work with people who don’t have medical schemes and don’t have cash to pay for those services.

“We want to utilise resources in the public and private sector and payment will come straight from Pretoria.”

The SA Medical Association (Sama) has welcomed the initiative and offered support, but raised concerns about the mechanics of the project, including rates and payment.

Motsoaledi, who has been on a national roadshow to explain roll-out of the NHI, said the response had been positive, but he would only know how many doctors would be available once they signed up.

“This is the first time we are going to get them to sign contracts. Consultants have been assigned to doctors in three NHI pilot project areas in KZN and hopefully we will have them signed up by July.”

Provincial Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo said he believed doctors would respond positively.

“We already have private doctors working in our hospitals. Now we are saying they must not work in the hospitals any more, but rather work at clinics, which is more convenient. We will need hundreds of doctors in the province,” he said.

The three district municipalities involved in the roll-out are Amajuba, Umzinyathi and Umgungundlovu.

Dhlomo said the districts were chosen because of their high disease rate. Motsoaledi said his visit to the 10 districts across the country was aimed at meeting everyone in the health sector, including religious, traditional and school leadership, the private sector, doctors and nurses.

“I am laying the ground for the NHI and what we mean by that, and what each person’s role will be. There is a lot of confusion so I am spending three to four hours with each group going through it. We also have to utilise all the resources we have in the public and private sector.

“Doctors and health workers are in short supply – 70 percent of doctors are in the private sector. This is the first step to utilise both sectors.”

He said he would also be meeting with the leadership of quintile one and two schools. “I am launching a health programme starting in those schools. Part of the NHI is to re-engineer the health system from a curative system to a preventative model. Nowhere in the world does a curative system work. “

He said the country’s health system was fragmented and hospital centred. “Before, our health system was divided by race. That was abolished in 1994. Now it is fragmented by the depth of your pocket. We also have uncontrolled commercialism where our health system has forgotten about human beings.”

All children entering school for the first time would have a hearing and eyesight test, as well as oral hygiene checks and there were also plans for immunisation.

“We are going to insist that every South African is tested at least once a year for HIV/Aids. We are also implementing drugs and alcohol programmes. But these are very sensitive issues and that’s why we are talking to parents and religious leaders.” he said.

Mark Sonderup, acting chairman of Sama said: ”We do not want a situation where instructions are given to us. There has to be an understanding.”

- The Mercury

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