Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang has upped the ante in her battle with the private healthcare sector to control the spiralling costs of health and medicines by rejecting suggestions that she was the minister of public health and should only focus on that sector.
With the payment of social grants like pensions having been taken over by the South African Social Security Agency, the department's budget had been slashed from more than R13 billion to R834.5 million in the 2006/07 financial year.
Nevirapine is being distributed to all 49 hospitals which offer maternity services in KwaZulu-Natal. This was announced by the Health MEC Zweli Mkhize in his report on women-related issues tabled in the legislature in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday. Mkhize said this nevirapine roll-out programme was also now available in seven of the 10 community health centres and 228 of the 425 primary health care clinics. About 104 800 pregnant women had received pre-test counselling over the past two years and approximately 75 percent of them had volunteered to be tested for HIV, he said. A total of 28 753 women tested positive, of whom 25 692 came back for their results and were aware of their status, said Mkhize. He said the major challenge facing this programme was the poor attendance of mothers and children at the clinics.With regard to the rolling out of anti-retroviral treatment, Mkhize acknowledged it would take several years to train all clinical staff and reach all those who deserved treatment. Mkhize said a special team has been set up to start working towards the roll-out of the anti-retrovirals. We believe KwaZulu-Natal can soon start in a few selected sites, which may offer referral points for other parts of the province that may not be ready to start treatment.We will improve as we work, he said.(Source: Sipho Khumalo, The Mercury, August 27 2003)