House Chairperson;
Minister and Deputy Minister of Health;
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health all Portfolio Committee Members;
Honourable Members;
Representatives of Development Agencies and Donor Partners
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen

Good afternoon
As a start of our participation in this Budget vote debate, House Chairperson allow us to extract from the freedom Charter which propagates that “free medical care and hospitalization shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children.” All members present in this debate and those viewing from various platforms would agree that premising our contribution on the Freedom Charter is rather a correct approach as the South African government’s health policy since 1994 has always “envisaged an integrated, equitable and comprehensive health system, based on the Primary Health Care (PHC) approach.” The Constitution of the Republic of South Africa buttressed the right of access to health care in section 27.

Honourable House Chairperson, it is the same Freedom Charter that promulgated that “the aged, the orphans, the disabled and the sick shall be cared for by the state.”

Honourable House chairperson, the year 2020 brought a calamity of the highest proportion that befallen our beloved country and peoples of the globe. Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought untold suffering and induced distress in all sectors of the community. This virulent and dreadful disease had put the world into a standstill and tested the resilience of the global health & economy diplomacies. The international village was thrown into turmoil. The Eastern Cape province was not spurred from the horrific ramifications emanating from the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Eastern Cape government set up a Provincial Coronavirus Command Council (PCCC) at the provincial level with further structures in the District and Local spheres of government which have led the fight against COVID-19 with dedication and have developed and executed interventions that mitigated against the dreadful virus. The Department in the province established Incident Management Team (IMT) that became an engine where interventions against COVID-19 were brewed and executed. The IMT religiously meets on daily basis to monitor and evaluate performance of the intervention strategies against COVID-19.

We have established Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) committees at health facilities and provincial level to strengthen interventions for risk mitigation and management. We do these things driven by our own ethos of caring – Batho Pele.

It is during this period as imposed by COVID-19 that we have as the government displayed our high levels of commitment to serve the needy and destitute at all material times. Through infrastructure investments, the Department of Health in the province of the Eastern Cape has increased number of wards and Intensive Care Units (ICUs) to treat our people who needed hospitalizations and high-quality care. This government has dispelled the fallacy that quality care is only provided in private health care. During the COVID-19 pandemic the state has displayed that it has strong and resilient health infrastructure and architecture that can address the health needs of South Africans.

The province has recorded cumulative number of 197 123 infections since the advent of the disease, 184 895 people have recovered from the COVID-19 (93.8% recovery rate). It is deeply heartening and sorrowful to have recorded 11 649 deaths in the Eastern Cape province.

We have as the province successfully inoculated a significant majority of the frontline health care workers. So far the province has inoculated 89294. This number is inclusive of health care workers and our people who are 60 years and above. Important to note is that we would have concluded inoculating Phase One before the start of the next phase, but there are those health care workers who elected to wait for vaccine brand. Because vaccination is not forced, the province has allowed them to exercise their democratic right. The allusions and insinuations that health care workers were not finished on time largely because of the province’s incapacity is nothing distant from concocted falsehood and fallacy. Of the health care workers that were not registered, 97502 has now registered to receive the jab. For Phase Two or people who are 60 years and above, 303 819 people have registered, taking the province to 401 321 of people in line to receive their jab.

The province of the Eastern Cape will continue inoculating the province’s people until it reaches 67% population (herd) immunity that will guarantee high level of immunity to the general population.

We are as a province working with various stakeholders, our Political Leadership, Council of Churches, Traditional leaders, Sister Departments in ensuring that we create demand and encourage persons above 60 years to come for Vaccination.

As a rallying theme to all the health stakeholders within the province of the Eastern Cape, in the 2021/22 financial year, the department has carefully elected a theme which says “The year to strengthen collaborations and partnerships in the era of COVID-19 to protect, promote and improve health in honour of Mama Charlotte Maxeke”.

This theme was designed out of belief that government must increasingly partner and collaborate with the private sector in developing, financing and providing public health infrastructure and service delivery through public–private partnerships (PPPs).

The province of the Eastern Cape is of the belief that the very nature of the COVID-19 crisis calls for a response that places public-private cooperation at its very core. We will only be successful in mitigating the worst effects of the pandemic if we break traditional silos and forge partnerships capable of containing the spread of the virus, protecting jobs and supporting families.

Honourable chairperson, we have as the province of the eastern Cape had our share of challenges and stumbled in some instances, we can certainly confirm that like a big one – the Eastern Cape is turning the corner in the tough fight against this formidable and invisible enemy, the COVID-19.

Honourable members, consistent with Freedom Charter’s commitment sixty-six (66) years ago that “free medical care and hospitalization shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children.” The National Health Insurance (NHI) seeks to comprehensively respond to the prescriptions of the Freedom Charter. NHI is a health financing system that seeks to realise universal health coverage (UHC) for all South Africans. Universal health coverage means a service that is available to all persons, including promotive, preventative, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services, regardless of socio- economic or health status of South Africans. We have developed a single, unified national health system with Primary Health Care (PHC) as a major locus of implementation. PHC services are freely available to the entire population at the first point of contact.

The NHI is premised to the principles of right to access to health care, social solidarity, equity, health care as a public good, affordability, efficiency, effectiveness and appropriateness.

Honourable chairperson, all these endeavours are meant to increase and improve the access to quality health services as espoused in the Freedom Charter, National Health Plan for South Africa and White Paper for the Transformation of Health System of 1997.

DCSTs have contributed significantly in improving the lives of women and children. It is our intent and commitment that women must not lose their lives through performing a normal physiological process of giving life/birth. The implementation of the Expanded Programme on Immunizations (EPI) and Integrated Nutrition Programmes (INP) have reduced infant mortality through provision of food supplements and inoculation of children against infectious diseases. These interventions contribute positively in meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Provincial Development Plan (PDP) targets of increasing life expectancy to above 70 years for both males and females.

The people of Eastern Cape have received the most needed and effective medicines like Anteretroviral Therapy (ARVs) and medicines for non-communicable diseases (hypertension & diabetes) to improve their lives and live longer. More 531 000 patients are enrolled on ARVs treatment programme. Government provides HIV testing to more than 1 million people in our province. We acknowledge that COVID-19 has hindered progress in some areas like Integrated School Health Programme especially Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which targets young girls to prevent cervical cancer.

We pride ourselves by contracting Independent Medical Practitioners to visit PHC facilities to improve doctor coverage. This important development is complemented by the introduction of Pharmacy Assistants to PHC facilities to ensure provision of quality medicines.

We salute health professionals of our province for their commitment and hard work in the fight against COVID-19. We deep our flags for many men and women who have lost their lives in the service of humanity. We shall always remember them and their names will be inscribed in the minds and hearts of many South Africans. We shall strive to save many lives in their honour. We also salute all South Africans from various sectors of society for their cooperation during the fight against COVID-19.

We wish to encourage our people to continue strengthening and implementing the Non-Pharmaceutical Intervention (NPI) of wearing mask, washing hands, sanitizing and social distancing whilst fast-tracking vaccination programme to reach “population/herd” immunity.

As the Eastern Cape we support the adoption of the Budget for the National department of Health for the 2021/22 financial year.
Thank you!

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