The HASA Chairman’s Opening Address at #HASA2019
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to the 2019 Hospital Association of South Africa annual conference.
In particular, I want to extend a warm welcome to the minister of health, Dr Zweli Mkhize.
We are thankful that you have found time in your extremely busy schedule for us, honourable minister.
I am sure I speak on behalf of all our delegates when I say that we eagerly await your message to us today.
I also wish to extend a warm welcome to MEC for Health in the Western Cape, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo.
A warm welcome also to our VIPs, our speakers, and our exhibitors.
Finally, thank you to you, our delegates. We appreciate your support. We are confident that you will find much during the conference that will interest you, perhaps excite you, and certainly challenge you.
This year’s conference takes place in a rapidly changing environment.
Developments are taking place with great speed.
The Presidential Health Summit has resulted in a Health Compact.
The National Health Insurance bill has been tabled before Parliament and will be open to public participation.
As we gather here, there is a great debate raging around healthcare reform. This is as it should be because we are embarking on what is perhaps one of the most seminal moments in the history of this country.
What we do next will define us as a nation. We must tread carefully, but confidently. Confident because we have faced tremendous challenges in the past, sometimes with the odds stacked against us, yet, as a nation, we have often prevailed.
We must not lose sight of this. As South Africans, we are resilient. We are also sensible. In our best moments, we have come together to find a way through our darkest challenges. We have always, in those moments, acted together for a common purpose.
Before the Soccer World Cup, I recall the international media casting doubt on our ability to host the event. Some countries, if you recall, even went so far as to suggest alternative venues in case we could not rise to the occasion. But we did.
A sense of togetherness, coupled with our resilience must not replace common sense, research, and knowledge. There is a name for that. To act as though the details don’t matter is hubris, even arrogance. This is destructive.
The one detail that should matter most to all of us in healthcare is this: too many of our fellow South Africans suffer. They do not receive the care they deserve. This detail cannot be erased in the health reform debate. What we do next must address this.
So, the challenge are clear. We must:
- Deliver legislation that enables access to quality care for all who need it;
- Find ways to collaborate to resolve every challenge that prevents all South Africans from accessing the care they need.
As I stand before you, I remain optimistic, despite the magnitude of our healthcare challenges.
First, there is a greater awareness and acceptance of collaboration.
I can provide a long list of collaborations that do not receive the attention they deserve.
For instance, the public health enhancement fund that has seen multiple millions from the private sector poured into developing over 70 medical doctors from the poorest communities, funding PhD’s and masters students, of which almost 30 have already graduated.
I am optimistic that we can meet the current challenges because on the ground, there are already partnerships between the public and private sectors. Tomorrow, we will hear presentations on two such collaborations.
I am optimistic because the various role players in healthcare are already undertaking practical solutions to reduce waiting lists for treatment by using private hospital spare capacity.
I am optimistic because there is a dialogue between the public and the private sectors that is constructive and positive.
There is, of course, a long way to go. Our challenges have built up over generations. Many are deeply systemic.
Some can be resolved in the shorter term, others will take another generation to remove.
We are on a journey. To believe anything less is to set ourselves up for disappointment. But it is a journey I have no doubt we can begin and successfully complete.
It is a journey we simply cannot afford to abandon. Lives depend on it.
What we do next will matter.
This is why, in February this year, the board of HASA decided, over an intense two-day review of its approach and strategy, to expand its mandate.
We decided that HASA would play an integral part in finding solutions to the challenges facing healthcare. In principle, one question stood out for us – “how do we contribute to increased and improved access to quality healthcare for all South Africans?”
The result is a newly overhauled structure focussed on the successful delivery of projects that strengthen healthcare. A brand that speaks to our widened mandate and how we intend to advance healthcare through optimism, innovation, collaboration, and research and evidence.
We will actively pursue partnerships to offer our spare capacity to treat the vulnerable. In fact, discussions are currentlyunderway even now with some provincial health authorities.
We will actively offer our research, our views, and our insights gained from operating in countries where some form of universal health coverage is in operation.
We will work positively with various stakeholders – as we did through BUSA to compile the health compact – to drive some of our proposed solutions to healthcare challenges. For instance, our plan to train 50 000 nurses that we presented at the jobs summit.
We have no shortage of ideas, nor commitments to help place healthcare on a firm foundation. We welcome every opportunity opened to us to present those ideas.
This conference then, is a place for ideas, for open debate, for wide-ranging views. It is our sincere hope that you leave here inspired to find solutions, new ways of doing things and with a new mindset.
We can leave this venue with a sense that we are ready to meet our challenges
But only if we work openly and honestly with each other, respecting the views of everyone, particularly when they do not immediately agree with ours. We cannot meet our challenges separately. Let us meet them together.
I thank you.