Hospital upgrades, HIV/Aids and TB treatment and the improvement of specialist services at tertiary hospitals are to get the biggest slice of this year’s Western Cape provincial health budget, says Health MEC Theuns Botha.
Tabling his R14.632 billion budget this week – the biggest slice of the overall provincial budget – Botha said about 87 percent, or R12.7bn, of the budget would be allocated to district health services.
This included the commissioning of the Khayelitsha Hospital, which opened at the beginning of the month, and the Mitchells Plain Hospital; emergency medical services; provincial hospital services; and funding direct operational costs of the province’s three tertiary hospitals.
Botha also revealed that the health budget over the next three years would increase by about nine percent to R15.740bn in 2013/14, and R16.751bn in 2014/15.
The district health services, which include clinics, community health centres (CHCs) and district hospitals would receive the biggest chunk of almost R5.5bn – an increase of R559 million from last year’s budget, while Groote Schuur, Tygerberg Hospital and Red Cross Hospital were allocated R4.2bn – an increase of about R240m.
Botha said primary health care clinics provided services to about 16 million patients, while district hospitals serviced just over one million patients.
Forming part of these district services was the new Khayelitsha Hospital. Mitchells Plain Hospital would be added to the list, and Botha said it would be completed before the end of the year.
“The focus of primary health care will be on the prevention of diseases and the promotion of health and wellness, in particular: maternal and child health; chronic diseases of lifestyle including the impact of substance abuse; mental well-being; and infectious diseases such as HIV/Aids and TB,” he said.
In an effort to reduce child mortality, the department was running a “Saving Mothers and Children” campaign in which it monitored infants’ development from birth to the age of five to detect diseases as early as possible.
In this regard, Botha said 17 of the province’s hospitals had been awarded “baby-friendly” statuses for their promotion of breastfeeding.
To improve access to health care, provide employment opportunities and foster community involvement, the department had also allocated R157.8m to community-based services, which were provided mainly by home-based carers. Botha said the allocation would increase the number of existing home-based carers from 2 900 to 3 050.
The province’s HIV/Aids programme was allocated nearly R1bn – with R738m allocated by the provincial government and R203m from the Global Fund.
Such funding would see the provision of antiretroviral therapy to just more than 135 000 patients in the province, including children. The department would also attempt to improve the TB cure rate to about 82 percent – a figure close to the international WHO benchmark of 85 percent.