Ministerial military health task team still working


The work being done by a military health task team is ongoing and its final report to Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is expected in three months.

The team was initially tasked with investigating means of improving service at the three military hospitals in Thaba Tshwane, Cape Town and Bloemfontein. Its mandate was then extended to include sick bays and other military health facilities at bases in South Africa as well as where soldiers are deployed on both border protection and as part of UN or hybrid AU/UN peacekeeping missions in Africa.

The team presented its findings and recommendations into factors affecting the optimal functioning of SA Military Health Services (SAMHS) three military hospitals to the Minister at the end of April. These led to its mandate being extended to other areas of military health service.

The mandate extension has to date seen the task team, under the chairmanship of Professor William Makgoba, visit some military bases in South Africa as well as border deployments on the South Africa/ Zimbabwe and South African/Mozambique borders. The task team has also been to the eastern DRC where a South African contingent is part of the UN Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) and to Darfur where South Africans are an integral component of the hybrid AU/UN mission.

Indications are the task team will be able to present a final report to the Minister by September.
“The Minister wishes to improve the working conditions of military medical practitioners, doctors, nurses, psychologists and others in the military health system based on the outcomes of the investigation. This, in turn, will lead to improved medical healthcare services for a projected patient population of 293 000 members a year,” the Defence Ministry’s Joy Peter said.

SAMHS costs, as per the SANDF 2014 annual performance plan, amount to R4,3 billion. The medical arm of service was allocated R3,5 billion by then Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his national budget delivered to Parliament in February.