Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
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Trade union federation Cosatu has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to fire Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, saying the public health system has collapsed on his watch.

Motsoaledi has faced a sustained campaign against him by Cosatu over the past two years, as the federation is unhappy with his progress on implementing universal healthcare. Cosatu has consistently accused him of watering down the ANC’s policy on National Health Insurance (NHI) to appease the private sector, and has called for him to be axed.

Cosatu was a major driving force behind Ramaphosa’s bid to win control of the ANC in December. Motsoaledi was also a Ramaphosa backer.

Cosatu is deeply worried about the state of our healthcare system. The situation continues to deteriorate and poor communities are … paying the price
Sizwe Pamla

Motsoaledi called a media conference on Tuesday to try and reassure the nation that while the public health system was taking strain, it was far from collapsing. He emphasised that the public health sector provided care to 4.2-million HIV patients and that deaths from TB had halved between 2009 and 2015, falling from 69,251 to 33,603 over the period.

However, a damning report presented to Parliament by the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) on Tuesday painted a picture of a health system in disarray.

Only five of the 696 public health facilities inspected by the OHSC during the 2016-17 fiscal year met its compliance threshold of 80%, and many of the facilities that scored particularly badly were found to have deteriorated when inspectors carried out follow-up visits.

"Cosatu is deeply worried about the state of our healthcare system. The situation continues to deteriorate and poor communities are … paying the price," said Cosatu’s Sizwe Pamla.

"What has disappointed Cosatu most is Minister Motsoaledi’s denialism and scapegoating. He is the only minister who has been allowed to stay in one position for close to a decade without being reshuffled. He had ample time to set up a vision and implement it over the last nine years, but he has spectacularly failed," said Pamla.

He reiterated Cosatu’s view that the minister was pandering to vested interests intent on carving out a greater role for the private sector in the NHI, without specifying who these interest groups might be.

Health department spokesman Foster Mohale said the minister had limited powers, as the provinces had control over many functions in the system, such as procurement.

kahnt@businesslive.co.za

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