Health issues emanating from the state of the nation address

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Health

16 February 2010
Chairperson: Mr B Goqwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee agreed to set aside Friday, March 5, 2010, to discuss its Committee Programme. Members felt it necessary to discuss the Programme in order to keep it aligned with issues that had emanated from the State of the Nation Address (SNA). Health infrastructure improvement, HIV, TB and the Human Resource Plan of the Department were some of the issues emanating from the SNA. The Committee set aside March 3 and 10, 2010, to meet with the Department and engage around these issues. The Department would be informed beforehand on which of these issues they needed to prepare for. Five Committee members sat on the Ad Hoc Committee on Service Delivery which meant that members were inevitably unavailable to attend Committee meetings. Even though the situation was temporary, it caused a problem in that it was difficult for meetings to continue without those members. A way forward needed to be found. The Committee agreed the rest of the Committee would not meet on those days that the five members were tied up with Ad Hoc Committee matters. Remaining members would occupy themselves with oversight visits in the Western Cape. Members also agreed that meetings could perhaps be scheduled on Fridays in order to make up for lost days. Members were also informed of invitations that had been extended to the Committee. The Chairperson briefly listed pieces of legislation that would be dealt with by the Committee in the future. The National Health Act and the Health Pricing Commission Bill were two pieces mentioned.

Meeting report

The Chairperson stated that the Committee would have a short year given the upcoming FIFA World Cup 2010. Some of the issues to be discussed by members in the meeting were highlighted by the Chairperson. The issue was how the State of Nation Address (SNA) would guide the Committee Programme for the upcoming year. A day needed to be set aside for the Committee to discuss its programme.

Mr Goqwana stated that the Committee had to also discuss the issue of five of its members sitting on the Ad Hoc Service Delivery Committee. These members were often not able to attend Committee meetings as a result of commitments with the Ad Hoc Service Delivery Committee. The fear was that there would not be enough members for the Committee to proceed with a meeting.

Members had to also discuss the legislation that it would deal with for the year as well as invitations that the Committee had received.

 

Ms A Luthuli (ANC) stated that the Committee would have to be guided by its programme.

 

Mr Goqwana said the Committee needed to decide when to discuss the programme.

 

Ms E More (DA) suggested that the Committee set aside a Friday to discuss the programme.

 

Ms M Segale-Diswai (ANC) seconded the suggestion. The current programme was a draft and the Committee needed to decide what to ad to it. Issues emanating from the SNA and the Budget Speech needed to be incorporated into the programme.

 

The Chairperson said that the Committee Secretariat, the Whip and himself would compile a discussion document for the day in question.

 

Ms M Dube (ANC) said that the Committee used to have a management committee. It could assist with the drafting of the Committee Programme.

 

Mr M Waters (DA) also supported the suggestion by Ms More to discuss the Committee Programme for the upcoming year. The discussion should take place before members’ constituency periods.

Five Committee members including himself were part of the Ad Hoc Committee on Service Delivery and would be doing oversight on February 25, 2010, and March 17, 2010. He felt it unfair if the Committee met in the absence of the five members.

 

Mr Goqwana asked if Mr Waters was suggesting that the Committee meet after the dates that he mentioned, on a Friday two weeks from the present meeting.

 

Mr Waters confirmed that it was in fact what he was suggesting.

 

Mr Luthuli asked if Mr Waters was suggesting that the Committee not meet when the five members were absent.

 

The Chairperson asked how the Committee would function without five of its members.

 

Mr Goqwana said that Mr Waters was suggesting that the Committee meet on the March 5, 2010 when the five Committee members would also be available.

 

The Committee agreed to meet on the March 5, 2010, to discuss its programme.

 

The Chairperson asked if there were any issues emanating from the SNA that members wished to discuss.

 

Mr M Hoosen (ID) raised the issue of continuity in improving health infrastructure. He requested that the Department provide information on the current state of infrastructure across provincial hospitals when the Department briefed the Committee on March 10, 2010,

 

The Chairperson said that the Department would be instructed to bring the information to the briefing.

 

Mr Waters said that the President had spoken about infrastructure and the working conditions of health care workers. He requested that the Department be asked to bring their Human Resources Plan as well. The Department should also be asked to comment on the reduction in life expectancy rates, how to reduce infant mortality rates, HIV issues which were spoken about by both the Minister and the President and to also brief the Committee on the National Health Insurance Scheme in terms of its progress and what budgets and costing would be.

 

The Chairperson said that many of the issues related to services in the provinces. Would it not be better to invite persons from the provinces along with the Department?

 

Ms Luthuli emphasized that the Department needed also to brief the Committee on beefing up primary health care, infrastructure and human resource capacity.

 

The Chairperson agreed that the Department needed to update the Committee on where they were.

 

Ms Segale-Diswai noted that the health issues mentioned in the SNA were part of the ten point plan. The plan was in place. The Committee needed an update on the plan from the Department. More specifics were needed since in the past the Department tended to be more general. The Department had to speak to their indicators as well as to the performances of the provinces. Which were doing well and which were not? More detail was needed on primary health care and on programmes for the prevention on new infections.

 

The Chair suggested that the Committee agree that the Department should brief on issues pertaining to the SNA and not on its achievements. Some of the issues to be discussed were its human resource plan, HIV, TB and infrastructure. He felt that other institutions like universities and even private health industries should be called before the Committee. Universities could elaborate on their curricular. An interesting fact was that there was no primary health care offered in the private health industry.

 

Ms C Dudley (ACDP) pointed out that nursing colleges fell between the Departments of Education and Health.

 

The Chairperson said that the Department would have to shed light on the issue.

 

Mr Waters was concerned about the private sector training of nurses. How does one ensure that standards were maintained? Accreditation was needed.

 

Mr D Kganare (COPE) stressed that the Department needed to cover the Ten Point Plan.

 

Ms T Kenye (ANC) informed the Committee that her mother had passed away during the December break. She felt that the Nursing Council needed to be monitored. Many nurses were moving from government hospitals to private institutions. What could be done to stem the flow?

 

The Chairperson extended the Committee’s condolences to Ms Kenye on the loss of her mother. He urged members to support each other during difficult times. The Department was scheduled to brief the Committee on March 10, 2010.

 

Ms Segale-Diswai asked that the issues that members had raised for discussion with the Department be forwarded to them. It would allow the Department to prepare properly for when they met with the Committee.

 

The Chairperson, realising that the interaction could be comprehensive, suggested that the Committee meet with the Department on two days. He suggested March 3 and 10, 2010, as the two days that the Committee would meet with the Department.

 

The Committee agreed.

 

Mr Goqwana also informed members that two invitations had been received. The one was for the weekend of March 26, 2010. It was from the Department for a day of lifestyles where members could participate in a 5km walk. The second invitation was from Distell the liquor producer.

 

Both Ms Dudley and Mr Hoosen both wished to know what was on the agenda of Distell for inviting the Committee. More specifics were requested about the reason behind the invite.

 

The Chairperson said that specifics on both invites would be forwarded to members.

He noted that the issue of the five members sitting on the Ad Hoc Committee on Service Delivery needed to be finalised. It was a temporary situation but the Committee needed to know how to deal with it.

 

Mr Kganare suggested that the Committee did not meet on those days when the five members were unavailable. If the Committee did meet, those members would be disadvantaged as they were attending to other parliamentary work.

 

The Chairperson noted the suggestion that no meetings be held on those days where the five members were tied up with the Ad Hoc Committee on Service Delivery.

 

Mr Waters suggested that perhaps the Committee could meet on Fridays to make up for those days missed.

 

Ms Segale-Diswai suggested that the Committee Secretary inform members as to which days the five members would be with the Ad Hoc Committee. It would allow the other members of the Committee to perhaps go on oversight visits so as to still be productive.

 

Ms Dudley also supported the suggestion that perhaps the Committee could meet on Fridays.

 

The Committee agreed not to hold meetings on the days when the five members were tied up with the Ad Hoc Committee. The rest of the Committee would do oversight duties on those days if possible. Fridays would be considered for meetings in order to make up the lost days.

 

The Chairperson said that the Committee would request permission to meet on Fridays. The National Health Act, the licensing of blood transfusion services, the review of the powers and functions of national and provincial departments, the Health Pricing Bill, the National Health Insurance Bill and the Health Law Amendment Bill were some of the legislative matters to be dealt with by the Committee in the future.

 

Ms Luthuli asked if all the legislation would be dealt with in 2010.

 

The Chairperson responded that the National Health Insurance Bill was tabled for 2011. Some of the pieces of legislation needed fast-tracking.

 

Mr Waters also suggested that perhaps the Medicines Control Council (MCC) should also brief the Committee.

 

The Chairperson said that the MCC was part of the Department and should also appear before the Committee.

 

Mr Waters said that he had received an invite to attend a TB conference in Durban and felt that other members should also attend.

 

Ms Luthuli was concerned that members were sometimes not invited to relevant functions and conferences.

 

The Chairperson felt it important that members should attend the TB conference in Durban. He said that when members were invited the organisers had to pay the cost of travelling, accommodation etc. Parliament did not cover those costs.

 

Ms Segale-Diswai said that when the Committee was invited the Minister should also attend.

 

Ms Luthuli pointed out that it was improper that members of parliament were not informed when Ministers made visits to their constituency areas. It was an issue that needed to be addressed. 

 

The Chairperson suggested that the Committee write a letter to the Deputy Minister that if such visits were to be made and it related to health members should be informed.

 

Mr E Sulliman (ANC) asked the Chairperson to enlighten members about the appointment of a new Committee Researcher.

 

The Chairperson said that a Committee Researcher had been appointed. He was currently attending a workshop but he would be back at Parliament on Friday, February 19, 2010.

 

The Committee agreed that on those meeting days when the five members of the Committee would be with the Ad Hoc Committee on Service Delivery, the rest of the Committee would undertake oversight visits. To cut costs oversight visits would take place in the Western Cape. Hospitals and clinics for example could be visited.

 

The meeting was adjourned. 

 

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