Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane said the province has made great strides in the health and education sectors – which have been the key focus areas during her administration.
She used the occasion to highlight the successes and challenges of the provincial government in the past five years – during her tenure as Premier of Gauteng. These included decreasing the child mortality rate and HIV and Aids, while expanding access to health to cover previously disadvantaged people.
“Primary Health Care has enjoyed top priority and is now accessible to all under this democratic government. Since 2004, the number of primary health care visits doubled from 10.4 million to 23 million in 2013 and over 8 000 community health workers across the province were trained.
“We have extended the hours of service at 112 clinics from 8am to 7pm, while at the 26 community health centres access is 24 hours,” Premier Mokonyane said.
To address health care concerns, Premier Mokonyane said the provincial government will open the long awaited Jabulani/Zola and the Natalspruit hospitals.
It is expected that the new Zola Hospital will be opened in April 2014 and the new Natalspruit Hospital in July 2014.
Health infrastructure in the province has improved since 2009 with work having commenced in various health projects, including the new Randgate Clinic, new Blood Bank at Tembisa Hospital, additional oxygen and vacuum points at Pholosong and Leratong hospitals.
“We are also doing renovations to accommodate TB beds at Tshwane District Hospital and Pholosong Hospital as well as the upgrading of Ward 4 and 8 at Helen Joseph Hospital.”
A large portion of the Hospital Revitalisation Grant budget will be used to implement refurbishment of the Sebokeng Hospital and Ga-Rankuwa Nursing College as well as to complete projects which are currently in progress in several clinics in the province.
“A total of 34 projects are targeted for refurbishment and rehabilitation, with an estimated budget of R477 million over a three-year period.
“This allocation is needed to ensure that health facilities that were either neglected over years or have deteriorated critically should be improved to meet minimum standards.”
Maternal deaths decrease
The rate in maternal deaths, she said, has dropped from 167 to 117 per 100 000 live births between 2005 and 2013.
“In keeping to our promise, we have introduced 120 new ambulances to improve the Emergency Medical Services and twenty of these are specially equipped with maternity and obstetrics for use by pregnant mothers.”
This has resulted in the decrease of child deaths from 43% in 2005 to 75% in 2013.
The number of pregnant women and children under 5 years as well as the vulnerable people vaccinated against flu doubled, from 75 000 in 2011 to a whopping 154 000 in 2013.
HIV and Aids
In partnership with organised civil society, Premier Mokonyane said they have turned the tide against HIV and Aids with related deaths dropping dramatically since 2010.
New HIV infections among adults have dropped, from 104 000 to 60 000 between 2004 and 2012.
Over the same period, new infections among young people and children dropped by 40% in 2004 and 86% in 2012, respectively.
Key in this regard has been the reduction of HIV transmission from mother to child, she said.
The premier revealed that over 900 000 people are now on Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) in the province compared to just over 75 000 in 2006. The province has also expanded the ART sites from just 59 in 2008 to 364 in 2013.
Successes have also been recorded in efforts to reduce the burden of Tuberculosis which saw the cure rate improving from 79% in 2009 to 83.4% in 2013.
“This is due to the provision of prevention therapy to HIV positive patients who have not yet contracted TB, as well as children under 5 years that are in contact with infected patients in their homes.”
With regards to education, Premier Mokonyane reported that there are 1.7 million learners in 2 070 schools across the province. Of this, 1.6 million learners are in 1 334 no fee paying schools and 128 000 learners are enrolled in Grade R.
About 1.2 million learners receive a meal and are able to concentrate in class, while more than 470 000 learners received free uniforms.
The provincial government also provides scholar transport to over 65 000 learners living more than 5km away from the nearest school.
This is an expansion of over 20 000 learners since 2009, said the Premier.
Gauteng has also reduced the number of schools performing below 60% in matric from 234 in 2009 to 43 schools in 2013.
The province’s matric results has also improved over the years with a 81.4% pass rate and a total of about 36 000 learners achieving distinctions and Bachelor passes.