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PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
23 May 2006
BUDGET HEARINGS: NATIONAL HEALTH LABORATORIES SOUTH AFRICA
Chairperson: Mr L Ngculu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
National Health Laboratories of South Africa Budget Presentation
The Committee was briefed by the National Health Laboratories of South Africa who provided an overview of their work. Members questioned what was being done to recruit more students into pathology and were told that in 2002 there had been no pathology graduates from UCT. The Committee was informed that in some of areas there was a lack of infrastructure, which sometimes made it difficult to say how long it would take for a specimen to be tested and returned to a clinic. The National Health Laboratories were trying to improve the number of students who passed the Board exam. Members were told that the pass rate affected the number of students who qualified as pathologists.
The chair stated that the Medical Research Council, scheduled to appear on the agenda, had asked for more time to prepare their presentation and so did not appear before the Committee that day.
Briefing by the National Health Laboratories of South Africa (NHLSA)
The NHLSA provided an overview of their work (see presentation).
Ms Tshwete (ANC) asked for a breakdown of the number of labs in each province and wanted to know what challenges were faced in the rural areas.
Ms M M Malumise (ANC) asked if the NHLSA were achieving the targets set by the Department.
Ms D Kohler-Barnard (DA) commented that they were being blamed for delays in court cases.
Mr J Robertson (NHLSA CEO) replied that the number of labs in each province was reflected in the presentation. It cost the NHLSA about R4 for each specimen to be moved to other labs. There was now a trend towards automation and the new analyzers were high volume machines. The delays in court cases were caused by the forensics labs and not by the NHLSA. The NHLSA kept records all times; from the time a specimen was moved to the time the specimen reached its destination it was recorded.
Mr S Mahlati (NHLSA Branch Executive Manager) told members that the turnaround time depended on the infrastructure and facilities. In the Western Cape the turnaround time was 48 hours, whereas in the Eastern Cape it was longer as more time was spent on transport. The turnaround time was not consistent in all areas.
Mr B MAshile (ANC) wanted to know if there was continuous engagement with the Department about the infrastructural problems.
Ms Matsemela (ANC) wanted to know what was being done to recruit students
Ms Mashigo (ANC) wanted to know if the Preferential Procurement Policy was in line with the Act. She wanted to know how Employment Equity was being addressed.
Ms J Mogale (Executive Regional Manager) replied that they were in contact with the Department about the challenges that were being faced; this was done at all levels
Mr Robertson replied that the intake of entrants had increased. In 2003 and 2002 there had been no graduates from the University of Cape Town. There were 50 female and 27 male graduates in pathology. The NHLSA had received guidelines from Treasury on the Procurement Policy.
Ms Manana (ANC) wanted clarity on the 4% grant income and asked if the NHLSA had an assets register.
Ms Nkabine (UDM) questioned whether there were vaccines available to counter Avian Flu
Ms Tshwete (ANC) commented that the NHLSA had not dealt with the malaria outbreak that had taken place in 2005.
Mr J Robertson replied that the NHLS was classified as an entity and that their results were consolidated with provincial government. In September a budget was submitted to national government, but funding was not based on it.
Mr S Minity (NHLS CFO) said that the NHLSA did have an assets register, and their Fraud Prevention and Risk Management Plan had been approved by the Board. There were title deeds that needed to be transferred into to the NHLSA.
Mr J Robertson added that there was no vaccine for the Avian Flu.
Ms J Mogale said that each province had its own malaria prevention system and surveillance measures were in place.
Mr Robertson stated that, at a Board meeting in 2005, a framework policy had developed for managers. The NHLSA had a Committee that looked at the budget that was taken to the Board.
The meeting was adjourned
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