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Use of health care services double

by Gabi Khumalo
on 14 Apr 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

The use of health care services has almost doubled over the past eight years with 101 million visits to clinics in the 2006/07 financial year, says Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang.

Addressing the opening of the National Consultative Health Forum (NCHF) recently, the minister said the increase was due to improved access as a result of building more than 1 600 clinics closer to the communities, improved package of care available at clinics and the removal of user fees.

"Efforts have also been made to decrease the inequalities in the funding amongst health districts and have led to significant improvement in service delivery and health outcomes," said the minister.

The immunisation coverage currently stands at 85 percent and the average number of new cases of diarrhea per 1000 children under the age of five dropped by more than half, from 258 in 2005 to 119 in 2006.

"These successes are a result of determination of our health workers to deliver services to our people, there are some promising signs with respect to both HIV and TB," said Minister Tshabalala-Msimang.

She further said that the 2006 antenatal survey showed for the first time a decline in HIV prevalence particularly amongst the youth, TB cure rates are improving annually while defaulter rates are declining.

The minister told BuaNews that the significant decline in HIV prevalence on pregnant women under the age of 20 means that the youth have taken the department's message very serious.

"Peer groups go a long way in changing attitudes," the minister said.

She added that the department was on the right track in terms of resource availability in clinics with 86 percent of health facilities having all the resources needed.

The NCHF further noted that while there have been many achievements in the delivery of Primary Health Care (PHC) services in the country, there are still many challenges.

This included improving access to PHC services and equitable allocation of resources.

Among the challenges also include availability of adequate human resources for health, improving quality of care, strengthening district management and community participation.

The forum resolved to revision and revitalise the PHC strategy for South Africa, which will include advocating for increased allocation of resources for PHC, by at least doubling the current per capita expenditure over the next 10 years.

It also resolved to ensure that PHC provided by the private health sector is made more affordable to the public and include its approach in training health workers to ensure their appropriate professional socialisation.

The NCHF represents government, public and private health sectors, statutory bodies, academics and research institutions, community organisations, civil society, non-governmental organisations and organised labour. - BuaNews

Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System

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