Committee Programme 2003

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04 February 2003
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


4 February 2003

Chairperson: Mr James Ngculu (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Draft Health Portfolio Committee's 2003 programme

The committee adopted the amended 2003 programme. Recommendations, suggestions and further additions were made to the amended programme. It was adopted as the committee's guiding framework flexible enough to accommodate the engagement of relevant issues that may arise in future. The programme reflected the Committee's intentions to performing assessments on amendment bills and other critical issues, always including the relevant stakeholders, departments and portfolio committee representatives when necessary .

The chairperson Mr James Ngculu (ANC) voiced his concern about the poor attendance of minority party representatives particularly for the discussion around the committee's programme for 2003. He read through the programme highlighting the crucial issues and activities

February programme
The chairperson pointed out with concern that departments usually just handed their annual reports to the portfolio committee without any engagement. The committee preferred to engage departments in terms of issues that arise from the report as of high priority. The meeting with the department of health is scheduled for 19 February 2003.

Committee needed to have an early briefing in the year about the Global Fund from the Minister of Health and a representative from United Nations Global Fund in view of the fact that the meeting scheduled for November last year did not materialise. The chairperson said he expected the briefing to bring the committee members to speed with the latest developments so that they would be able to anticipate challenge and problem areas.

February 21 would be dedicated to stakeholders to discuss issues around care, treatment and prevention of HIV / AIDS. In response to a question inquiring about which stakeholders the committee would be meeting with , the chairperson clarified that the stakeholders would be existing (already operating) national stakeholders, namely Napwa, Aids Law Project and TAC.

Also of great concern were the problems at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town with regards to hospital transformation. This has necessitated that the Committee schedule calling in the Groote Schuur Management and Hospital Board to give the Committee an understanding about the problems and look at solutions. The Standing Committee on Health for the Western Cape would also be invited on the same date: 28 February 2003.

Ms M.M. Malumise (ANC) raised her concerns about activities reflected as full day activities on the 2003 programme that fell on Fridays. The chair allayed her concerns stating that Friday was a working day up until 12h30 in the afternoon, and that was the guiding principle. If there arose a need to further expand briefings this could be done later in the programme.

March Programme`
Lined up for March were the statutory councils for two full days Statutory councils are reported as not having appeared before the Committees in over eighteen months. The Statutory Councils include the Health Professions Council, Pharmacy Council, Allied Professions Council, Medical Research Council, Dental Technicians Council, Nursing Council, Council for Medical Schemes, and the National Health Laboratory Services. Their availability would enable the to give the committee a clear sense of what doing.

Of the eight medical schools (that will be represented by their respective deans and student representatives) scheduled to meet with the portfolio committee members, the chairperson highlighted that it was important for institutions such as UCT, Wits, and Natal to appear because the committee needed to understand the problems in advancing the transformation programs.
The Members of the Committee concurred that the Portfolio Committee on Education should be invited to this briefing scheduled for the 11 March 2003.

The programme also details the second review of the implementation of PMTCT sites where the Committee will be given an opportunity to critically engage with the authors of the report when meeting representatives of the Health Systems Trust (HST)and the Department of Health (DOH). In order to determine progress with regards to Primary Health Care at District level and progress with regards to transformation at Local Government level, the Committee also scheduled to meet on 25 March 2003 with the DOH, HST SALGA, and the Department of Water Affairs. The Portfolio Committee on Local Government and Water Affairs would be invited to the meeting.

The chairperson indicated that dates for the rest of the programme would be confirmed as the activities draw closer.

April Programme
The Committee would be meeting with stakeholders to asses the impact of Medicines and related control on pharmaceutical industry and public sector ; and whether or not the consumers and patients were seeing the benefits.

Budget hearings: A two day budget hearing with the directorates of the National Department of Health would be used to identify gaps and weaknesses, examine expenditure patterns and focus on targets for 2003. The provincial budget hearings have been allocated three days in which the Committee will assess progress in the provinces with regards to policy implementation and service delivery.

The chairperson highlighted that the Mpumalanga hearings would need to include Witbank Memorial Hospital in view of reports of on going problems in that hospital. The Committee, on taking into account that stakeholders who work in the communities would have first hand knowledge of what really happens on the ground, set aside a day for input from civil society where they could test the views of civil society in as far as the relevance and impact of the Health Budget.

In April the Committee (together with HST) will have a workshop on the National Health bill, a site visit to the North West province, and a briefing by the Department of Correctional Services and Military Health Services in order to ascertain how national policy and programmes are integrated into their health services.

May Programme

For the May 2003 section of the programme the chairperson highlighted that it was important that in order not to do things in a disjoined manner, the relevant portfolio committees needed to be invited so that issues would be dealt with in an integrated manner.

With respect to National Health Insurance, the Committee felt that it needed to be moved from paper and put on board , hence they indicated that they would be meeting with DOH, Treasury and Social Development representatives, and Portfolio Committee on Social Development and finance. This group will look at implementation of the commission of inquiry into a comprehensive social security; developments in the transformation of the private health sector; and progress in the provinces (hospitals) in terms of having the necessary capacity to generate revenue from patients who are covered by medical aid schemes.

The chairperson pointed out that he was concerned that theCommittee had not been invited to discussions pertaining to comprehensive treatment plans on HIV/AIDS. The committee needed to be briefed by DOH, SANAC, and the Provincial Aids Council on the treatment and operational plans of SANAC, Home Based Care and the Nedlac Agreement in order to find coherence derived from one clear policy.

Mr Ngculu (ANC) strongly felt that an integrated inclusive program was required.

Dr I M Cachalia (ANC) pointed out that home based care should not neglect other chronic illnesses other than HIV/AIDS. He highlighted that many chronic suffers could not access hospital.

The chairperson, Mr Ngculu, maintained that home based care on the Committees programme was referring to issues around HIV/AIDS.

Ms M N Tsheole (ANC) voiced the need for the Committee to get a clear picture of what was happening in the provinces and in the districts.

In agreement the chairperson stated that site visits, the HST and surveys had to be fully utilized in order that they could derive some comparative study. He added that the committee's 2003 programme would allow such flexibility and would also be used to gage the Committees performance.

The Nursing Amendment Bill, Tobacco Products Amendment Bill, Health Professions Amendment Bill, and the Dental Technicians Amendment Bill would also be looked at in May for the purposes of assessment and for the introduction of new provisions for regulation where necessary.

Mr Ngculu stated that each ministry had a poverty alleviation fund and development in this particular area was uneven. In this light the Committee needed to investigate the possibility of expanding the reach of the child support grant and the school nutrition programme and to look at progress with regards to the food security strategy adopted by Cabinet in July 2002.

Ms SF Baloyi (ANC) asked if department could brief the committee about whether there was a comprehensive programme or package for school health. She sited as an example a school nurse on the school premises to check scholars for malnutrition.

The Committee would meet with DOH and stakeholders, PC 's on Education, Agriculture and Social development; and later address Health Promotion and Education, and School Health.

June to October Programme
For the latter part of the year between June and October the Committee would engage in assessing legislation. In June the impact of legislation on Tobacco, Medical Dental and Occupational diseases; the quality of care rendered to the elderly and the disabled; equity.

In July the Traditional Healers Bill to facilitate the creation of a legal frame work for the regulation of the profession of traditional healers and the creation of a statutory body that would regulate the profession would be discussed. The Pharmacy Amendment Bill would be discussed in relation to providing a legal framework for the transformation of the Pharmacy Council.

The South African Medical Research Council Amendment Bill would be discussed in August with the aim of redefining the role of the MRC. In September the Red Cross Bill to formalise the relationship between the government and the Red Cross, and to ensure rescue and disaster management are properly co-ordinated.

In October the Medicines and Related Substances Control Amendment Bill would be looked at in order to introduce new provisions for the regulation of complimentary medicines, the creation of new categories of medicines, and the control of medical devices. The Circumcision Bill in line with National legislation on circumcision as instructed by the President, and in view of the reported occurrences predominantly in the Eastern Cape and Limpopo provinces will be considered. Finally the assessment of the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and disinfectants Amendment Bill in order to provide stricter control on the spread of food borne diseases.

The programme reflected that the assessments of amendment bills and other critical issues would always include the relevant stakeholders, departments and portfolio committee representatives.

The programme was adopted by the Committee. The chairperson reiterated that additional suggestion and changes could still be made to the programme, but in essence it would be used as a gage to measure the Portfolio Committee's performance for the year 2003.

Meeting adjourned.


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