Aggressive interventions in the health system yields positive outcomes in Mpumalanga

Despite acknowledged challenges along the way, the Mpumalanga Provincial Government prides itself on making significant strides in improving health care services for its citizens over the past 30 years.

During her much-anticipated State of the Province Address, Premier Refilwe Mtshweni-Tsipane said the Provincial Government’s commitment to enhancing the health system is rooted in the principles of “Umhlahlandlela,” otherwise known as the Freedom Charter, adopted during the Congress of the People in 1955.

“As a caring government, we have committed ourselves to improving the health care of our people through an effective and efficient healthcare system. Remarkable improvements in the health indicators for our people could not have happened had we not embarked on an extensive and substantial investment into our healthcare system,” she said.

According to Mtshweni-Tsipane, one of the key achievements mentioned is the establishment of an Oncology Unit at Rob Ferreira Hospital, with dedicated beds for both adult and paediatric patients.

She said that as a result, the province has seen a significant increase in the number of patients accessing oncology services, with thousands receiving check-ups and chemotherapy treatments.

“The old Rehabilitation building at the Rob Ferreira hospital was renovated and is now an Oncology Unit with a total of 12 beds for adults and two beds for children, to cater for very ill patients requiring admission. Since August 2019, we have recorded an increase in the number of patients who access oncology services in the province, from 1 556 to a total of 18 125  by January 2024. From April 2023 to January 2024 alone, a total of 3 844 patients received check-ups, and 2 133 received chemotherapy,” said Mtshweni-Tsipane.

The Premier said the recruitment of specialised healthcare professionals, including oncologists, pharmacists, and nurses, has strengthened the oncology team, ensuring quality care for patients.

“In total, 6 016 patients have received chemotherapy since 2019. These are all patients who ordinarily would have been referred to Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria for treatment. We have also appointed two full-time oncologists, two oncology pharmacists, and five oncology specialist nurses as key members of the Oncology Team. A paediatric oncologist has been appointed and will commence work from the 1st April 2024,” said Mtshweni-Tsipane.

In addition to improving oncology services, the government has taken steps to prepare for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, with plans to construct a Radiation Bunker at Rob Ferreira Hospital.

The Premier said accreditation of healthcare facilities by the Office of Health Standards Compliance and the attainment of ideal clinic status for a majority of Primary Health Care facilities demonstrate a commitment to quality healthcare delivery.

“To date, 85 healthcare facilities have been accredited by the Office of Health Standards Compliance, which is a body that has been mandated by law to give accreditation on quality health standards to all facilities, both public and private. Additionally, 88%, which is 258 of our 292 Primary Health Care facilities, have achieved ideal clinic status, which means that the majority of patients will have access to a clinic with good infrastructure, adequate staff, adequate medicine and supplies, good administrative processes, and sufficient bulk supplies,” said the Premier.

Mtshweni-Tsipane said the Provincial Government’s focus on caring for vulnerable and marginalised groups is also evident in its social programmes.

“The Foster Care Programme, one of the programmes that is based on the African proverb ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ has made a huge impact in the lives of our children and families. Since the beginning of the 6th Administration, we have placed 542 children in foster care,” she said.

From the presentation of the Premier, substance was still a concern that needed to be dealt with in the province, which has prompted the establishment of treatment centres.

“Substance abuse has become endemic, negatively impacting the lives of the substance abusers and their close families. We opened our doors and our hearts to more than 1 942 substance abusers who needed our help. We have completed the construction of the Swartfontein and the Nkangala treatment centres. In the days ahead, we will officially hand over the Nkangala treatment centre. In the current administration, 7 409 NPOs have been supported to implement programmes that are impact driven and aid our efforts to create a Mpumalanga anchored on morals and social cohesion,” the Premier said.

As the Provincial Government continues to prioritise healthcare and social welfare, it is poised to meet the challenges ahead, including the full implementation of the NHI Act in 2028.

The best takeaways are health infrastructure projects that are at different stages of development:

  • Linah Malatjie Tertiary Hospital (new 400 beds) is in the design and planning phases.
  • Construction of a mental ward with 60 beds capacity at Kwamhlanga Hospital.
  • Construction of Mapulaneng Hospital.
  • Middelburg Hospital has been completed.
  • Upgrading of Siyabuswa CHC and the upgrading of Witbank Hospital Mental Unit.

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