29 September 2010
South Africa is to spend billions of rands on massive upgrades of five of the country’s major public hospitals, using the experience gained in building stadiums for the 2010 Fifa World Cup in implementing the projects.
“We will put massive investment – it will be more than what the country spent during the soccer World Cup,” Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi told reporters at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in Durban on Monday.
Task teams had been put in place to start planning the rebuilding projects at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in the Eastern Cape, Dr George Mukhari and Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospitals in Gauteng, and the Limpopo Academic Hospital.
In the case of Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, renovation and expansion work began years ago and is far advanced. Located on the outskirts of Soweto, Johannesburg, the hospital is the biggest on the continent, covering 0.7km² and serving approximately 3.5-million people.
Motsoaledi said the government had identified infrastructure development as key to transforming health care delivery in South Africa. “This was because of an honest introspection that informed us that we have not done much in the past 16 years,” he said.
Hospitals had been chosen as flagship projects in fast-tracking infrastructure development in public health, in part because they provided referral services to mainly rural communities.
Motsoaledi said that one of the problems that had led to deterioration in some state hospitals – Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital in particular – was that the department had used doctors to manage infrastructure projects.
Motsoaledi said the government wanted to use the experience gained in building the 2010 Fifa World Cup stadiums in implementing these projects.
Engineers would provide strategic management of these massive projects, including developing norms and standards for clinics and big hospitals.
Motsoaledi also warned that provinces that underspent on their infrastructure budgets would have them taken away. This was in light of a report showing that the provinces have been underspending on their infrastructure budgets over the past five years.