Health authorities in South Africa would take over the running of state mortuaries from the South African Police Service, Health Minister Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang announced on Tuesday.
Introducing debate on her Budget vote in the National Assembly, she said a R35-million grant had been allocated for this.
Other steps in the budget included a substantial increase in spending on HIV and AIDS programmes, and a stronger focus on redistribution of funds from urban centres to rural provinces.
Referring to expanding community health services, Tshabalala-Msimang said it had been estimated that 26 percent of public service dental posts and 31 percent of pharmacy posts had been filled through this process last year.
This year, the programme will put no fewer than 1 742 young doctors,
dentists and pharmacists into the field.
She said MPs might be aware that her department had finalised national protocols for the provision of two drugs - AZT and 3TC - at public health institutions for survivors of sexual assault.
The protocols cover the type of counselling that must be provided to enable survivors to make an informed choice about the medication, with a full
understanding of the risks involved and require that they give written consent. It is important that the public should appreciate that, while
nobody can undo the damage of rape, a comprehensive health system response significantly limits the harm.
Tshabalala-Msimang said results last year had confirmed that the HIV prevalence rate had
Mike Ellis (DP) said there have been remarkably few successes in the area of healthcare over the past eight years.
While transformation of the healthcare services was absolutely vital, the manner in which this has been carried out has been unsatisfactory.
Certainly, far more people have access to services now than eight years ago, but the quality of these services has deteriorated significantly.
Ellis said hospital care was a prime example. In 1996, the government commissioned a CSIR audit of its 359 public hospitals. The result was that the audit recommended that most of these
hospitals be rehabilitated - 30 percent were found to be in a serious crisis, and many of these needed replacing completely.
While the government could not be held responsible for the condition of these hospitals in 1996 - just two years after taking them over -regrettably little has changed since then, Ellis said.
New National Party health spokesman Dr Kobus Gous said that when the inflation rate was taken into account, the total budget allocated to the Health Department had not increased in real terms.
Some analysts argued it had in fact decreased.
But it was important to acknowledge that the national Health Department's budget was actually very small, simply because health services were in most cases a provincial concern, Gous
said. (Source: SAPA, 4 June 2002)