Health Minister Joe Phaahla told Parliament on Wednesday that sectors of the country’s health system suffered from neglect since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as the focus shifted to combatting the virus. However, he believes his department could recoup the losses during the current financial year.
PHAAHLA SAYS FOCUS WAS LOST DUE TO COVID-19
Phaahla presented the health budget vote at the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday. He says one of the department’s primary focuses for this financial year is going to be recovering comprehensive health services.
Phaahla explained the shift in focus was because some health services took a back seat to Covid-19.
“We have already agreed with all MECs that the key is to integrate the mitigation against Covid-19 into our comprehensive basket of services from primary health care levels upwards, including the vaccination programme, which must increasingly be part of our comprehensive services,”says Phaahla.
He said a recovery focus is to catch up on delayed surgical procedures.
GROUND NEEDS TO BE REGAINED IN FIGHT AGAINST HIV AND TB
Phaahla says the health department needs to reignite efforts to find people with HIV and TB who require treatment.
“We lost some of our targets as agreed with UNAIDS. We have even lost ground in as far as promotion of family planning, which has seen an explosion of teenage pregnancies,”says Phaahla.
Phaahla added that his department would also turn its attention to the improvement of the quality of service in its health facilities.
This is in accordance with the targets of the National Development Plan, the Presidential Health Summit of 2018, and the Health Compact signed in 2019.
These include dealing with long queues, waiting times at clinics and hospitals, and dealing with congestion.