Johannesburg, 30 May 2019 – The Treatment Action Campaign welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of the cabinet yesterday (29 May 2019). The President instated Dr Zweli Mkhize to the health portfolio in place of Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, who served in the portfolio for ten years. We note with satisfaction that Dr Mkhize has extensive experience in the health care sector. We applaud President Ramaphosa for prioritizing the health portfolio and look forward to working with Dr. Mkhize to achieve this endeavor.
We acknowledge the role played by Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi in turning the tide against AIDS denialism that riddled the Mbeki administration. Under his guidance, over 4,7 million people have been initiated on antiretroviral treatment through universal test and treat (UTT). Under his stewardship, the number of AIDS related deaths has been reduced from 195,000 a year in 2005 to 89,000 in 2017. We commend his administration on this, given that the number of people living with HIV has increased in that period. Linked to this, we commend Dr. Motsoaledi for the increase in life expectancy during his tenure in office, from 58,3 in 2009 to 66 in 2019.
While acknowledging the strides made, we stress that much more needs to be done. Under Dr. Motsoaledi, much more could have been done in relation to improving the public health care system. Integrated Support Team reports initiated under Minister Barbara Hogan were not capitalized on by the Motsoaledi administration. Furthermore, the TAC notes that the oncology crisis in Kwazulu Natal, the National Health Laboratory Services crisis, the Life Esidimeni crisis in Gauteng, the dire state of Emergency Medical Services and many other crises occurred in provinces and at national level under the Motsoaledi administration.
We urge Dr. Mkhize to take control of the process of ensuring universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance and take the necessary steps that stakeholders such as the TAC and SECTION27 have suggested in submissions to improve this progressive project. We urge him to also prioritise post provisioning for health care practitioners, push to ensure the drastic reduction of stockouts and centralise electronic health records. We further call for Dr. Mkhize and his team to work closely with the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) to ensure that state capture is left in the rearview mirror under the new administration, and that all allocated resources are used effectively. Finally, the TAC also urges him to prioritize the implementation of the recommendations of the Competition Commission’s Market Inquiry into the Private Health Care Sector when it is finalized to curb healthcare costs and reduce the burden on the public health care sector.
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