Address Mr. Malusi Gigaba MP, Minister of Public Enterprises, at the official opening of the trauma unit at Chiawelo Clinic
30 Jul 2012
I am happy and honoured to be among you today at this, the official opening of the upgraded trauma unit and upgraded dispensary area, together with medical equipment at Chiawelo CHC funded out of the Eskom Corporate Social Investment Programme.
We can say it without any exaggeration that this is Corporate Social Responsibility as it should be done; not throwing money into the problem, but investing in sustainable programmes that leave a real legacy and empower communities.
This is indeed a proud moment for all of us, especially for the people of Chiawelo and South Africa in general.
Through this programme, Eskom believes it is making a significant impact in improving health and saving lives in the surrounding communities.
Health was identified by President Zuma and the new administration in 2009 as one of the 5 key government priorities besides education, jobs, rural development and fighting crime.
In this way, the President was directing all of us, both in government and the private sector, to use the enormous resources in our command to contribute to creating healthy communities.
Access to quality health care is a basic human right which enables individuals, households and communities to lead productive lives.
Failure to meet this basic need would result in countless citizens being trapped in inter-generational poverty.
One of the glaring legacies of apartheid was to deny the majority of South Africans access to quality health and it created a dual and inequitable health system.
The persistent nature of the dualism in health care has undermined public sector efforts to ensure that South Africans are afforded access to quality health care without paying exorbitant fees.
Not only was the health of the majority left almost in tatters, but the health infrastructure in the country, in terms of physical and human infrastructure, were also in a dismal state, which made it virtually impossible to provide primary and quality health care to the majority.
Historically, our health facilities and professionals were not provided in a manner that promoted either accessibility or primary health care provision for the majority. This constrained the growth of the sector and resulted in poor projection for the country as a whole.
When freedom came in 1994, when the new government took drastic measures to ensure access to quality and especially primary health care for the majority, and opened the doors of health facilities to the majority, the South African heath care system experienced significant growth and demand in terms of customers and the system seemed to be failing to cope.
It has always been clear that government alone could not solve all the complex problems of South Africa alone. All South Africans, particularly businesses and most particularly the state-owned companies, had to step up to partner government to address these challenges.
We are aware that most of our health problems are related to poverty, inequality and joblessness and, therefore, in the long-term, creating jobs is the only way we can address health the challenges of our country on a sustainable basis.
The solution for the country therefore, is higher growth and job creation to reduce and ultimately eradicate poverty and inequality and ill-health. As a developmental state in the making, we see our role as being to lead and guide the economy and to intervene in the interest of the poor, given the history of our country, and thus address the health challenges of our country by providing the physical and human infrastructure required to improve the system.
Central to the massive infrastructure development programme announced in January by the President is the social infrastructure which would lay the basis for the National Health Insurance system such as the refurbishment of hospitals and nurses’ homes.
In this regard, the President said that:
“The massive investment in infrastructure must leave more than just power stations, rail-lines, dams and roads. It must industrialise the country, generate skills and boost much needed job creation.”
Government is seriously concerned about the deterioration of the quality of health care, aggravated by the steady increase in the burden of disease in the past decade and a half and have therefore set ourselves the goals of further reducing inequalities in health care provision, to boost human resource capacity, revitalise hospitals and clinics and step up the fight against the scourge of HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and other diseases.
Government has sought urgently to rehabilitate public hospitals and clinics through Public-Private Partnerships.
However, today’s opening of the improved trauma centre at the Chiawelo Clinic tells us a different story about the role of conscientious State-Owned Companies such as Eskom to help alleviate the health burdens of our nation and supporting government to provide important health infrastructure and services.
The ESKOM Foundation has developed a responsive approach to this racially and class based health care system through its Corporate Social Responsibility programme by making health services accessible to the poorest of the poor and thus rightfully assisting government to achieve its development agenda and address social inequities.
Section 27 of the South African Constitution states that all citizens shall have a right to quality health care and South Africa is a signatory to the Millennium Development Goals which call for the eradication of poverty and inequality and investment in health care through global and national initiatives.
Eskom, through the Eskom Development Foundation, carries out corporate social investment (CSI) initiatives to improve the quality of life in communities where Eskom operates.
In line with the focus on health, the Foundation has contributed to lifesaving healthcare through inter alia the funding of lifesaving medical equipment and upgrading of facilities for various clinics, including the Leratong Hospital in Gauteng, the New Somerset Hospital in Cape Town and most recently the Chiawelo Community Health Centre Trauma Unit in Soweto, Gauteng.
Through the upgrading and equipping of the trauma unit of Chiawelo CHC, Eskom believes it is making a significant impact in improving health and saving lives in the surrounding communities.
Having a 24-hour trauma centre, means countless lives will be saved and this will also alleviate pressure on existing hospitals such as Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
Eskom heeded government’s concern for the poor state of health of our people and of health facilities particularly in black areas by investing in meaningful initiatives aimed at uplifting the quality of life of the poor and vulnerable, that is, women, children and youth.
This unit will reduce waiting time for patients as medical staff won’t have to run around looking for equipment anymore – they now have modern equipment which will help them greatly.
I believe that it will also improve the staff attitude and morale, increase patient safety in terms of adequate service delivery and help considerably with cleanliness and infection control.
I would like to urge the hospital staff to do everything in their power to ensure that the exceptional standards of the ward are maintained, ensure the sustainability of the project.
I trust that the community of Chiawelo will also do their part in making sure that the facility is taken care of.
The Eskom Development Foundation approved funding in the amount of R 4 967 940 towards the most critical units, i.e. the trauma unit and dispensary section.
Through the SA Medical and Education Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving the quality of healthcare through private / public partnerships, the refurbishment commenced in mid-January 2012 and was completed on 19 March 2012.
Five hundred and eighty (580) patients have been treated since April to date by the trauma unit in the now complete state of the art facility, including 551 adults and 29 children.
As a result, Chiawelo clinic now has a state of the art facility to treat accident and emergency cases 24 hours a day.
We would like on this occasion to applaud ESKOM on this magnificent milestone and to commend the company for continuing to re-affirm through its endeavors the importance of State-Owned Companies and the role they can play beyond their business mandates to support the government’s social development agenda.
I thank you.
Issued by: Department of Public Enterprises
30 Jul 2012
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