South Africa's health care system will receive a much-needed boost in 2011, with the government planning to train more doctors and nurses, revitalise the country's nursing colleges, step up HIV/Aids prevention, and push towards finalising the new National Health Insurance scheme.
Delivering his State of the Nation address in Parliament last week, President Jacob Zuma said the focus for the year would also be on the appointment of appropriate and qualified people to the right positions.
He singled out the positions of heads of department, chief financial officers, hospital chief executive officers, district health officers and clinic managers, saying adequately qualified people needed to take up these positions.
More nurses, doctors
The government also intends to train more nurses and doctors in 2011.
Plans are in place to revitalise 105 nursing colleges across the country, and a medical faculty that is expected to be established at the Limpopo Academic Hospital will train more doctors, Zuma said.
In addition, renovations and refurbishments at the country's hospitals and clinics will continue.
Focus will also be given to women's health.
"We will broaden the scope of reproductive health rights and provide services related to ... contraception, sexually transmitted infections, teenage pregnancy and sanitary towels for the indigent," the President said.
Stepping up HIV/Aids prevention
The government will be stepping up its fight against HIV/Aids in 2011 by promoting various prevention measures, including medical male circumcision and prevention of mother-to-child infections, Zuma told Parliament.
Zuma said the government's massive testing campaign, announced a year ago, had proved to be successful, with more than five-million HIV tests having been conducted since the launch of the campaign.
The Department of Health has set a target of 50 percent reduction in the number of new HIV/Aids infections by 2011. In the same period, antiretroviral medication would be provided to at least 80 percent of South Africans who needed the treatment.
Last year, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan allocated an additional R3-billion to the fight against HIV/Aids in the country. This was in addition to the R5.4-billion rand that was announced to enable the HIV/Aids programme to take on more people and improve the effectiveness of treatment programmes.
The extra money took account of further policy measures to broaden access to those co-infected with TB and women and children with CD4 counts lower than 350.
The President also touched on the new National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, saying much work had gone into developing an implementation plan and policy for the NHI over the past year.
"Government will soon be releasing the policy document for public engagement," he said.