Response To The Executive Statement By The MEC For Health
By Dr BT Buthelezi MPL, Leader Of The Official Opposition



Kwazulu-Natal Legislature Pietermaritzburg: Thursday, 29 July 2010



Honourable Speaker


At the outset, I wish to express our appreciation of the MEC’s commitment to the fight against disease as well as his openness in sharing information about the progress of government initiatives in this regard. This is a refreshing sight in view of the ambiguity and secrecy of the ANC provincial administration during the previous term of government.


As a medical doctor, I cannot overemphasise the importance of prevention when it comes to the HIV/Aids pandemic. Quite rightly, the prevention programmes piloted by the government are multi-pronged ranging from the use of condoms to male circumcision.


One concern that I wish to share about the latter is the danger that male circumcision, as useful as it is, could overtake all other forms of prevention, some of which, like the use of condoms, have been proven to be more efficient and cheaper. It is our hope that the government’s focus on male circumcision will not turn into an obsession to the exclusion of all other forms of prevention – very much like the government’s denial of the extent and consequences of the HIV/Aids pandemic in the recent past.


The government drive to expand HIV testing and link it to the roll out of anti-retroviral therapy needs to be singularly applauded. The advances in medical science and the availability of new techniques are receiving adequate attention from the provincial Department of Health and are being translated into policy as swiftly as our resources – both human and financial – allow.


We appreciate the attention the MEC is paying to the skills shortages in his department as well as the ever present plague of corruption in the ranks of officials which threatens to wipe out the department’s achievements in the fight against disease. I am afraid there is no shortcut to the filling of critical vacancies. The past closure of some nursing colleges by the government, citing 'funding' as a reason, did not assist in the production of nurses.


The MEC’s last contribution relates to the redeployment of hospital CEOs. The main criticism of this measure was not limited to the redeployment of urban-based managers to rural areas. In some instances, such as the appointment of former rector of the University of Zululand, Professor Rachel Gumbi to the managing post of the Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital in Umlazi, the new managers have been exposed as lacking effective administrative credentials. We hope the MEC will learn from these mistakes in the future.


I thank you.


Contact: Dr Bonginkosi Buthelezi, 082 516 0156