The 2019/20 financial year saw the medical arm of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) “perform” more than two million “healthcare activities” according to the latest Department of Defence (DoD) annual report.
This performance indicator, the report notes, “reflects the total number of captured healthcare activities in geographical health care facilities plus healthcare activities in tertiary/specialist SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) facilities, as well as healthcare activities in internal and external mission areas per quarter. Healthcare activities relate to medical services rendered, such medical appointments, optometry, veterinarian services and others”.
The report’s programme for military health support indicates it provides prepared and supported health capabilities and services for the defence and protection of South Africa. This is done via a health support capability of five medical battalion groups and one specialist medical battalion group for deployed and contingency forces as well as “a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary military health service to a projected patient population of 302 000 members a year”.
The patient population is both serving and retired SANDF personnel as well as military veterans registered on the Department of Military Veterans (DMV) database. The database is again under scrutiny with Department of Home Affairs (DHA) officials working alongside DMV officials to ensure it is correct in all respects. Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) will seek a report on the updated veterans’ database toward the end of the first quarter of the year.
The SAMHS fleet of healthcare facilities is topped by three military hospitals (Thaba Tshwane in Gauteng; Wynberg in Cape Town and Tempe in Bloemfontein) with sickbay facilities of varying sizes and capabilities at the majority of bases. These include Naval Base Simon’s Town; AFB Waterkloof; AFB Makhado; AFB Bloemspruit; AFB Ysterplaat and SA Army general support bases in all nine provinces.
While the report points out the number of healthcare activities performed, no breakdown of where or what is provided.