More resources to combat Aids

12 February 2009

An extra R932-million will be added to the Health Department’s HIV/Aids grant in 2009/10 to extend the screening of pregnant mothers, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel told Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday.

“We are budgeting to extend screening of pregnant mothers coming into the public health system and to phase in an improved drug regimen to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission,” Manuel said in his 2009/10 Budget speech.

South Africa’s state anti-retroviral programme now covers 630 000 people, and the medium term expenditure framework provides for an increase to 1.4-million people by 2011/12.

The 2009/10 Budget makes provision for further improvements in the remuneration of South African health professionals and for the continued expansion of the country’s hospital revitalisation programme.

Manuel said the department would receive 18 new hospitals in the next three years. “A total of 31 hospitals are under construction, 18 of which will be completed over the next three years.”

He said a new unit to address the quality of service provision was included in the government’s health spending proposals. “This will be named the National Office for Standards Compliance and it will set and audit norms and standards for hospitals and primary care centres.”

Manuel also announced an additional R1.8-billion to introduce three new child vaccines to reduce deaths from pneumonia and diarrhoea.

The state’s tuberculosis programme also received additional resources.

Manuel acknowledged the complexity of the challenges facing the country’s health services, and the strain on resources associated with a rising disease burden.

He said policy interventions supported in the Budget focused both on health facilities and services, and on more aggressively combating the causes of ill-health.

“The development of a National Health Insurance System is aimed at improving the equity of health care financing and enhancing the quality of care for all South Africans,” he said.

Source: BuaNews