Netcare hopes to curb child mortality

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Netcare chief executive Richard Friedland has vowed to assist in halting the rising child mortality rate and the declining life expectancy plaguing South Africa's health-care system.

While he would not provide details about the most prevalent illnesses the Netcare group has dealt with, he admitted that South Africa's private and public health care systems were not in synch.

Friedland said: "We've been very open about the desire to partner with governments across Africa. Many of our basic healthcare outcomes are poor. Hopefully under the new (health) minister we'll see better cooperation with the government."

He was speaking about Netcare's ambitions following the group's release yesterday of its annual financial results for the year ended September.

The group increased its revenue by 17percent to R21,7billion. It made 14 acquisitions, eight in the United Kingdom and six in South Africa.

Due to the exchange rate between the British Pound and the Rand, 52percent of the company's revenue came from UK operations while South Africa contributed the remaining 48percent.

According to Friedland, the UK division still made up only 30percent of the company's operations in terms of beds and facilities.

While the group's operating profit increased by 13percent, the profit margin went down from 16,1percent to 15,5percent. Friedland said: "This decline came largely as a result of our decision to honour the request of the former minister of health to hold tariff increases below the higher inflationary environment."

The group, which has seven percent of all hospital beds in the country, increased its hospital tariffs by 6,2percent in order to keep up with higher fuel and labour cost increases.

However, people continued to get ill, with a six percent rise in hospital admissions keeping the entire health-care industry well utilised despite the increasing pressure on people's spending money.