Following complaints from both medical personnel and patients, Defence and Military Veterans Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula appointed a ministerial medical task team (MMTT) to investigate all aspects of military health in South Africa.
It made seven broad recommendations and 10 specific recommendations, Surgeon General Lieutenant General Aubrey Sedibe told Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans this week. Subsequently the Minister also tasked the team to investigate military medical support provided to South African National Defence Force (SANDF) forces at training formations and during deployments, be they continental, regional or local.
Sedibe told the committee the MMTT found morale of deployed soldiers and their loyalty towards the SANDF was “commendable”. He also pointed out what he termed the creativity of deployed soldiers was also commendable because they “are living proof of the slogans ‘make do with what you have’ and ‘do more with less'”.
As far as recommendations concerning the upgrade of medical facilities were concerned, Sedibe said extensive demolition work had been done at 1 Military Hospital in Thaba Tshwane ahead of repair and upgrade work. The other SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) hospitals are in Wynberg, Cape Town, and Bloemfontein.
Carpentry, plumbing, electrical and bricklaying teams from the SANDF Works Formation were deployed to 1 Mil and successfully undertook demolishing tasks on the first and second floors with the final work to be completed by April this year. The use of an in-house facility has seen R2.5 million saved, which would have been paid to an outside civilian contractor, while management of the project, also done in-house, has been estimated to cost R5.5 million over a 12 month period.
The Surgeon General’s presentation does not go into any further details as regards renovation and refurbishment work at 1 Mil.
Sedibe also told the Portfolio committee that initials steps had been taken to establish a Faculty of Military Medicine at the University of Pretoria. This is in line with the MMTT recommendation of establishing a military medical academy.
Another MMTT recommendation for a SAMHS research entity was underway with all three military hospitals using existing Phidisa structures, for HIV/Aids, as the basis of the research entity. Armscor operating units Ergotech and Protechnik will also be approached regarding collaboration with the research entity.