James Masango MPL
DA Chief Whip, Mpumalanga Legislature
The recent announcement by the MEC for Health, Dr Clifford Mkasi, that the provincial cabinet would review its decision to phase out mobile clinics, is welcome news for a province beset by primary health care delivery issues, and the DA calls on both Cabinet and the Department of Health to make the provision of mobile clinics a priority.
The DA believes that Cabinet’s 2011 decision to start phasing out the use of mobile clinics and replace them with permanent ones was not well thought through and uninformed, and would result in added pressure on existing primary health care clinics and hospitals. Furthermore, it would have resulted in the poorest of the rural poor being excluded from primary health care, as they would not have had the finances to reach permanent clinics. Dr Mkasi’s admission that the decision could have far reaching negative effects on the health needs of the poor, and needs to be reversed, justifies having a doctor in the health portfolio. It is thanks to this that inequalities in or health system will be reduced and will improve the quality of care and access to public health care facilities for the people. According to Dr Mkasi, Mpumalanga has only 71 operational mobile clinics. However, many are ageing and soon have to be decommissioned, while others are in poor condition, which will affect many dependent communities in the near future. The DA hopes that Cabinet and the health department will address this issue as a matter of urgency, and ensure that as many mobile clinics as possible are in the field, bringing health care to the poor.
Because of Mpumalanga’s size and thinly spread rural population, the DA is convinced that mobile clinics will form a crucial part of the health department’s mandate for decades to come, and the fleet should be increased, instead of being phased out.