Unions welcome Dr Aaron Motsoaledi back to Health Ministry

The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (HAITU) has taken the first step in welcoming back Dr Aaron Motsoaledi into the Health Ministry. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo Independent Newspapers

The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (HAITU) has taken the first step in welcoming back Dr Aaron Motsoaledi into the Health Ministry. Picture: Doctor Ngcobo Independent Newspapers

Published Jul 3, 2024


The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (HAITU) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) have welcomed the re-appointment of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as the minister of health.

Motsoaledi was unveiled by President Cyril Ramaphosa as the new health minister following the elections of May 29 and the establishment of the Government of National Unity.

HAITU, through its general secretary, Lerato Mthunzi, said during his tenure as health minister Motsoaledi turned the fortunes of the ministry around and is familiar with the challenges facing the ministry, adding that he is a hands-on minister who is not afraid to get his hands dirty when it matters.

“Dr Motsoaledi is no stranger to the health portfolio and when he was minister conditions in public hospitals and clinics were far better than they are now.

“Dr Motsoaledi has a reputation for being hands on when it comes to solving the problems in the department, and we remember him for being a person who engages all labour unions in health, not just those affiliated to Cosatu.

“The minister was instrumental in the architect of the NHI Bill and we look forward to the roll-out of NHI in all facilities, as soon as possible. The minister has an opportunity to cement his legacy as a champion of health-care rights and equal access for all, if he prioritises this,” Mthunzi said.

Mthunzi said Motsoaledi would be instrumental in shaping up the recently ratified NHI Bill, which was passed by Ramaphosa just weeks before the elections.

“It is HAITU’s position that, in order for the NHI to succeed, we must abolish the role of the private sector so that all health-care resources are used for the benefit of us all. We want an end to the two-tier health system which ensures that all the best hospitals and clinics are used by a handful of people who can afford medical aid.

“We note that, in the past, Dr Motsoaledi has championed the interests of ordinary people, when he confronted global pharmaceutical companies on their exorbitant costs for access to life-saving ARV treatment for HIV-positive patients.

“We also remember him as the minister who worked tirelessly to ensure that hospitals had enough resources in order to adequately serve the community. He set the example for other MPs by using public health-care facilities, and not relying on private hospitals for his own personal treatment,” the union said.

The union has called on Motsoaledi to continue his hard work in ensuring that he works with all the relevant stakeholders in ensuring an end to austerity measures.

“HAITU is calling on Dr Motsoaledi to work with us to end austerity in healthcare so that we can have more state funding, in order to improve service delivery, and ensure that the poorest of the poor are treated with dignity and care. We look forward to working with him and call on him to continue to engage all stakeholders, especially organised labour in his new role,” it said.

Denosa implored him to hit the ground running by addressing and providing long-term solutions to key issues within the health sector.

The union called for Motsoaledi to implement the newly passed National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.

“Denosa hopes the minister will spearhead the speedy implementation of the NHI, where all human resources are deployed to all health-care areas of great need,” it said.

Denosa also asked the minister to confront the nursing education system, in particular, the R171 nursing diploma which is a three-year course that produces general registered nurses.

According to Denosa, the R171 stretches the pool of general nurses who cannot render patients midwifery, psychiatry and community services, which caps health-care services for health-care facilities where pregnant women and psychiatry patients cannot be assisted.

“The new nursing curriculum that produces nurses under the R171 programme, Denosa hopes the minister will see the limitations the new nursing curriculum has brought about, which also makes nursing services inaccessible to communities.

“The new registered nurse is not independent as they do not have midwifery, psychiatry and community service, meaning they will not be able to help to take care of expectant women and psychiatry patients if they were the only ones present in their facilities,” said Denosa.

The R171 is also career-limiting as it prolongs general nurses to progress to specialisation which is only from NQF Level 8, therefore, they must enrol for a advanced diploma in midwifery to attain their postgraduate specialisation.

“The new nursing cadre is at NQF Level 6, which limits their upwards career growth as the next postgraduate programmes are at NQF Level 8. The only recourse for them is for them to first study midwifery so that they can be able to progress and do other postgraduate nursing courses of specialisation,” said Denosa.

Denosa also urged Motsoaledi to absorb more young people in nursing colleges and universities, and hire jobless nurses, as “half the current nursing population will retire in the next 15 years,” it said.

The country has 20 000 unemployed nurses, Denosa reported last year.

“Denosa welcomes him and hopes for more engagement and relationship in addressing the many health-care issues in general and nursing,” it said.

The Star

[email protected] | [email protected]