People’s Health Movement South Africa (PHMSA) welcomes the reappointment of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi as South Africa’s Minister of Health.
We applaud his commitment to the health of the nation and to the principles of Primary Health Care. We realise that the task is daunting: Dr Motsoaledi confronts not only a historically weak and critically fragmented health system, but also powerful corporate groupings who make profits from health care and have vested interests in keeping a two-tier system. We urge Dr Motsoaledi to release the White Paper on the NHI so that we and other organisations in civil society can analyse it critically, give feedback and assist in achieving a strong and unified health system..
Like Dr Motsoaledi, we believe health is a fundamental human right and should not be treated as a commodity subject to market forces. We therefore support his efforts to transform the country’s human and material resources for health, private and public, into a single, equitable national health service for everyone, free at the point of delivery, through initiatives that include the National Health Insurance, the Reengineering of Primary Health Care, and the Certificate of Need, which aims to ensure the more equitable distribution of health care facilities. We note his leadership in choosing public rather than private sector health services for himself and his family.
The most important intervention to ensure successful transformation of the health system lies in easily accessible and good quality health care at all levels but especially at the household and community level through sufficient numbers of community-based health workers who are well-trained and supported, and have fair conditions of service within the formal health system. In addition to caring skills they should also be able to catalyse community development and mobilisation for health.
But reaching the goal of Health for All requires more than a well-functioning health system. A range of key state sectors have to work together to address the conditions under which people become ill including poverty, inequality and unemployment. This requires improved food security and social security; safe working conditions; adequate housing, water and sanitation; good education; healthy environmental conditions and personal safety and security.
While responsibility for intersectoral collaboration at national level lies in the new cabinet and the Presidency, local government also has a fundamental role in addressing these social determinants of health, with strong and meaningful community participation. We call oncommunity organisations to hold local government accountable for this and on provincial health departments to provide resources to clinic committees and hospital boards to enable them to represent their communities effectively.
PHM is committed to a vision where health is a right and where there is equitable access to health care and to the resources needed to live healthy lives. We commend Dr Motsoaledi on his work thus far and commit to work with him where he pursues policies that address the social determinants of health and reduce health inequalities.
Issued by People’s Health Movement, South Africa
For More information contact
Chair, People’s Health Movement, South Africa
129 Rochester Road, Observatory, Cape Town
021 447 5770