President Cyril Ramaphosa has welcomed the outcomes of the Presidential Health Summit 2018, saying the deliberations among a broad range of stakeholders in the national health system will inspire action towards the creation of a healthier nation.
The President launched the final report on the Summit at a media briefing at Tuynhuis, Cape Town, today, Tuesday 12 February 2019.
The launch was attended by Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Deputy Minister of Health Joe Phaahla and senior representatives of the sectors that participated in the Summit which was officiated by Deputy President David Mabuza on 19 and 20 October 2018.
The Presidential Health Summit followed a consultative meeting in August 2018 that focused on the National Health Insurance (NHI). The summit explored ways to strengthen the health system to ensure that it provides access to quality health services for all through an inclusive process.
The significance of the Summit arises from the fact that this was the first engagement on this scale and in this depth among a range of stakeholders who encompassed government, legislators, the health private sector, health economists, health service users, academics, health practitioners, labour and community organisations and community health workers.
The Summit was structured to look into nine key areas:
1. Human Resources for Health (or the Health Workforce)
2. Supply Chain Management, Medical Products, Equipment and Machinery
3. Public Financial Management
4. Infrastructure Planning
5. Private Sector Engagement
6. Health Service Provision (Delivery)
7. Leadership and Governance
8. Community Engagement
9. Information Systems.
The Summit generated support for National Health Insurance and for the principles of universal quality health care, social solidarity and equity in health access.
The Summit also adopted the principle of “One Country - One Health System” for South Africa and welcomed the renewed energy and commitment within government to improve the health system to ensure that South Africans receive quality health care.
The consensus emerging from the diversity of stakeholders who participated in the Summit is a vital prerequisite for the attainment of universal health coverage in South Africa.
Having identified critical challenges, the Summit called on Government to urgently prioritise the filling of critical vacant posts so that staff shortages in key areas of the health system can be stabilized.
Based on Summit deliberations, provinces are expected to prioritise their financial resource allocations in a manner that will ensure that the delivery of quality health care is not compromised.
Furthermore, the Summit highlighted the need to review and develop sustainable financing model to address urgent financial resource requirements, with National Treasury being tasked to ensure that this is finalised soon.
The Summit proposed a centralised procurement system with standardised procurement systems and processes to deal with corruption, economy of skills and scale. This calls for an information technology system that will enable the integration of procurement.
In addition, the success of a quality health system rests on information systems that can generate valid information at the right time and in the right format for decision-making and monitoring at all levels of management, taking into account the need for patient confidentiality.
Further proposals relate to the development of expertise and funding to implement the National Department of Health’s health infrastructure plan in a manner that will respond to changing population and clinical dynamics.
This demands stronger coordination between the Department of Health and partners such as the Department of Public Works. Overall, infrastructure in both the public and private health sectors must meet the requirements of the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC).
Mindful of the interplay between the public and private sectors, the Summit acknowledged the critical role the private has to play in the realisation of universal health coverage, and called for ongoing inclusive consultative processes to achieve this goal, started through the Summit.
The Summit underlined the importance of the active engagement of health care service users in the processes of unifying the health system and identified Community Health Workers as a vital link between communities and health facilities.
Representatives of the Summit sectors are currently developing a Presidential Health Summit Compact based on the outcomes, which commits sectors to work together to implement identified solutions. The initial sectors identified are: government, civil society, labour, health services users, business, private providers, academia, statutory councils, health professionals and allied health workers.
Representatives will consult their key constituencies on the interventions to be implemented and craft a plan including clear objectives, methods, timelines, milestones and indicators as well as financial resources.
Addressing media at the launch of the Summit report, President Ramaphosa said: “The Presidential Health Summit 2018 gave us an opportunity to examine our national health system as a patient in its own right and to arrive at a diagnosis that would allow us to intervene and return this system to good health.
“We need a robust, efficient and caring health system in a country where more than seven million people live with HIV; where we are seeing rising rates of diabetes, hypertension and cancer, and where maternal and neonatal death rates must be reduced.
“Too many people do not receive quality preventive, promotive, curative and rehabilitative health care services they deserve, while others receive superior health care services.”
The President said the attention government would pay to restoring the health system would flow from two of the national priority tasks outlined in the 2019 State of the Nation Address, namely improving the conditions of life for all South Africans, especially the poor, and strengthening the capacity of the state to address the needs of the people.
Realising the magnitude of the challenges in health care, government has established an NHI and quality improvement War Room in the Presidency. This structure consists of various key departments to address the crisis in the public health system while preparing for the implementation of the NHI.
President Ramaphosa said that while it was essential to build and maintain a healthy nation, this responsibility rested not only on government and partners to the health summit of 2018, but on all South Africans who should adopt healthy and active lifestyles and do their best to take care of their physical and mental wellbeing.
The full Presidential Health Summit 2018 Report can be accessed on The Presidency website or as a download HERE.
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