Deputy Chairperson, hon Minister, Deputy Minister, members of the executive councils, hon members of the Council, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour and privilege for me to inform the NCOP that the Eastern Cape department supports the Health Budget Vote 16 policy speech, as presented by the hon Minister. This is because the department is absolutely forthright in directly targeting the basic health needs of the poor, highlighting the need for the re-engineering of the health care system, learning from best practice from other developing countries, and defending the right of the people of the Republic of South Africa to have a health service which is affordable, effective, sustainable and preventive in nature.
This budget policy speech has been all-encompassing in that it has educated us on the extreme importance of preventing diseases, injury and death, and of promoting healthy lifestyles, in contrast with the present obsession with the treatment of individual diseases, when it is already too late for many individuals, and at great cost to the fiscus and the gross domestic product, GDP, of the country.
We agree with the hon Minister that South Africa is faced with a quadruple burden of disease and state that the Eastern Cape is committed, with all its energy and resources, to working as a collective, supporting the hon Minister in decreasing, and ultimately in the long term eradicating, these four challenging areas of disease.
As he has already indicated, the Minister signed a performance agreement with the President, and subsequently with us in the various provinces, to ensure a long and healthy life for South Africans. The health sector has adopted a 10-point plan which speaks to priorities which the Minister alluded to in his policy priorities and budget speech. The hon Minister's speech also addressed the issues that are critical in the eight government priorities.
Allow me, therefore, to highlight some of the major achievements of the Eastern Cape department of health in answering the department's policy priorities, its 10-point plan, and how we are living the negotiated service level agreement.
With regard to HIV and Aids and TB, the number of patients on antiretroviral treatment, ART, has increased from 123 552 to 152 357. The number of people who have been tested for HIV is 1,2 million, whilst 1,3 million have been counselled. The number of those who have been tested and are positive is 138 541, and 513 736 have been screened for TB. The number of ARV sites has increased from 147 to 659. The uptake of nevirapine by newborn babies has increased from 83,3% to 98,5%. The number of nurses trained on the Nurse Initiated Management of ART, Nimart, is 943. We were supplied with four GeneXpert machines to diagnose TB and to detect it in the early stages. Eighty-five nurses have been appointed for community- based management of multidrug-resistant TB, MDR-TB, and intensified case- finding teams. We have achieved a cure rate of 66% according to the electronic TB register. In answering the Minister's directive to focus our attention on HIV and Aids, we have established a special directorate to deal with HIV and Aids and it is headed by a chief director.
In working together as a collective for the achievement of the ultimate objective of ensuring "a long and healthy life for all South Africans", the Department of Health has started preparing the health care system in the Eastern Cape for the eventual implementation of the National Health Insurance, NHI, and facilitating the gradual re-engineering of the health care system according to the following three main streams, as indicated by the hon Minister.
Firstly, the department has commenced revitalising its organisational structure so that it is in line with the district-based model, with a team of five specialists focusing specifically on maternal and child mortality. We are doing this gradually, because we want to draw some lessons from the national process.
Secondly, the department has proactively engaged in the revitalisation of primary health care service delivery in the Eastern Cape by piloting this stream in five subdistricts. Since mid-2010, all five health subdistricts have been involved in the development of a social compact for community mobilisation, including the facilitation of job creation via co-operatives focused on providing soft services.
Thirdly, the department has obtained executive council support for the implementation of the stream encompassing the ward-based primary health care model deploying ten or more well-trained primary health care practitioners per ward.
We are in agreement with the Minister's comments on noncommunicable diseases.
We are also busy attending to the issue of health care management by making it less complex and ensuring that form follows function. Furthermore, the department has employed 1 667 health professionals from October to date, and 1 247 nurses as well as 22 clinic associates graduated last year.
On the issue of infrastructure, on which both the chairperson of the select committee and the Minister have spoken, we have committed R1,9 billion for the revitalisation of the following hospitals: Livingstone, Cecilia Makiwane, Frere, St Elizabeth's, St Patrick's, Frontier, Nkqubela TB Hospital and Jose Pearson. We have created 1 500 jobs and we project creating 2 275 and further training 3 000 people at Cecilia Makiwane.
We have also opened five clinics and a state-of-the-art EMS base, also containing a call centre, the latter costing 18 million. We have also finished the construction of the Mthatha base at R9,6 million and the Queenstown EMS base at R21,9 million. On emergency services, we have handed over 100 ambulances at a cost of R57,7 million, and we have recruited 109 people and eliminated one-man ambulance crews. We are stamping out the abuse of ambulances by our personnel, as we have installed a tracking system in order to know where the ambulances are. We are decentralising the ambulances and attaching them to district and tertiary hospitals.
Due to improved protocols on mother-to-child transmission and comprehensive treatment, there has been a decrease in the number of babies born HIV- positive.
There are other challenges that we face. There is pilfering of medicines and drugs in our depots. However, we are working with law enforcement agencies in order to deal with this. The systems have collapsed, but we are working on installing them and putting control measures in place. We have arrested the culprits and are continuing with the investigations.
There is an intergovernmental team that deals with corruption and that comprises the Organised Crime Unit, Sars, Health and the Asset Forfeiture Unit.
On the issue of conditional grants, while we have improved with regard to expenditure, there are still challenges in regard to three of those grants. One of them is HIV and Aids. We, together with the affected managers, are dealing with that. We can now indicate that the department is effectively starting this new financial year from a negative position, with expenditure expected to exceed the budget by approximately R978 million, including accruals and carry-through costs, which will be carried over to the 2011-12 fiscal year. We would like this Council, whenever it debates provincial matters, to give attention to this matter.
In conclusion, through you, Deputy Chairperson, we thank the hon Minister and the members of this Council, and we urge the Council to support the hon Minister. We are fortunate to have leadership that is passionate and hardworking, and if this time around we do not change the situation in Health, I don't know what will happen going forward. Thank you. [Applause.]