1 Mil off AU and UN high medical care provision lists


The torturous and seemingly never-ending upgrade of the SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) flagship 1 Military Hospital could be “swiftly expedited” according to SA Soldier, the official SA National Defence Force (SANDF) publication.

It notes, in its latest edition, the “unending” repair and maintenance programme (RAMP) at the hospital on the northern side of Thaba Tshwane “drew the ire” of Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD).

This, SA Soldier writer Khanyisile Gina avers, could end thanks to a public-private partnership “that seems to work”. The partners are Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence (DoD), Minister Patricia de Lille’s Department of Public Works and Infrastructure (DPWI) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA). Part of DPWI’s involvement saw it enter a total facilities management (TFM) contract with private sector Servest. SA Soldier reports 1 Mil General Officer Commanding (GOC) Brigadier General Mokakatla Skosana as telling a presentation to DoD, DWPI and DBSA the integrated facilities management service project, now in its second year, will fast-track refurbishments at the hospital.

The 36-month commitment by Servest to the military health service of the SANDF sees it undertake a repair and maintenance programme covering what the publication called “critical minor services”.

“These have given the hospital a slight facelift noticeable at the entrance where external signage has been replaced.”

Servest technical manager Stephan Janse van Vuuren is reported as saying the refurbished signage helps create as welcoming atmosphere for patients – showing the hospital cares for them.

A project core focus is remodelling 1 Mil plumbing and hot water reticulation systems. Over time it has “been prone” to bursts causing delays in daily operations and, in extremes, preventing surgical procedures. Plumbing was repaired with “new and efficient copper pipes installed”.

The Servest TFM contract started in August 2020 and is due to finish in August 2023. TFM at 1 Mil includes preventative, reactive maintenance and minor works in mechanical, electrical and building, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, fire systems, electrical installations including transformers, generators and boilers.

Just how badly off 1 Mil is was explained by Servest technical manager Vuyisile Gilbert and DBSA head of construction and maintenance Tshilidzi Ramanyimi.

The pair, according to SA Soldier, said: “1 Mil is bleeding. In future there won’t be enough bandages to stop the bleeding. Where the cost of repair exceeds that of replacement, the DoD needs to consider doing away with constant repairs and focus on new, quality, replacements”.

The delayed RAMP at 1 Mil has seen the hospital lose its African Union (AU) and United Nations (UN) level four medical care accreditation. This means it cannot support external – continental and international – peacekeeping operations due to non-completion of “repair and maintenance work commissioned in 2006”.

In a statement post last week’s JSCD meeting where both DoD and DPWI stated their respective cases on 1 Mil, committee co-chair Cyril Xaba said: “The committee remains of the view the project is an unmitigated disaster, with the state continuing to spend millions in private healthcare due to delays in completing the repair project. The committee’s concerns centre around escalation of costs on one hand and construction and the cost of medical outsourcing on the other.

“The cost incurred for outsourced medical services is projected from 2010/11 to 2019/20 to be about R1.086 billion, which is unacceptable. Due to outsourcing, the department (DoD) continues to lose expertise at the facility.

“The project will remain a major point of focus for the committee and it intends to have the defence department account in the near future,” the JSCD statement read.