16 August 2012
South Africa’s National Health Amendment Bill, which will enable a number of measures aimed at improving the country’s health system, was approved by the National Assembly in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Speaking at the second reading debate on the Bill, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said although success had been achieved in reducing the incidence of HIV/Aids and TB, the country still faced challenges with the effectiveness of the health system.
The Health Department identified quality as one of the key areas in dealing with the issue effectively. As such, the new amended Bill has called for an Office of Health Standards Compliance to be established.
The Office is modelled on the British Quality Care Commission, and will be made up of three units: an inspectorate, health ombudsperson and supply chain management and asset reconciliation.
The inspectorate will be responsible for examining the country’s health facilities and it will be mandatory for every health facility to be inspected every four years. Problematic health facilities will be inspected as often to avoid deterioration.
The department has sent 20 individuals to Britain to train as inspectors of South African facilities.
Once a particular facility has been inspected, it will be graded on a scale of A to F, and a report will be subsequently released publicly.
The second unit of the body will be a health ombudsperson. The public will be able to lodge complaints about negative experiences – including non-availability of drugs and long waiting times – encountered during their visits to health facilities.
Motsoaledi said the department had by April this year trained at least 40 individuals and divided them into facility improvement teams.
“They have been moving from district to district to help institutions to improve basic standards.”
He added that 400 unemployed graduates in the finance, human resources and ICT fields have been divided into teams and dispatched to various provinces to help in supply chain management and asset reconciliation, among others. They started work in April.