Ailing Eastern Cape health gets R1bn injection

THE Eastern Cape department of health has allocated more than R1-billion for infrastructural upgrade which will benefit five hospitals in the province, MEC for health Sicelo Gqobana revealed this week.

Presenting his policy speech for the 2012/2013 financial year at the Bhisho legislature, Gqobana said the hospitals set to benefit from this financial injection were Cecilia Makiwane in Mdantsane, St Patricks in Bizana, Frontier in Queenstown, St Elizabeth in Lusikisiki and Madwaleni inElliotdale.

Gqobana said of the R1.4-billion set aside for infrastructure in the 2011/2012 financial year, 92% of that amount had been spent.

An additional R250-million had been lobbied from the national Department of Health to "accelerate the revitalisation funding", according the health superintendent-general Siva Pillay.

He said his department would focus on eight areas, which included an injection in bursary schemes to benefit more than 1500 underprivileged pupils who want to pursue studies in the health sector.

The department has allocated R105.7-million for this year's bursary project.

In 2010, nursing college Lilitha made headlines after it was discovered that students lived in appalling conditions. To rectify the problems identified, the department has allocated R14.66-million for the upgrade of nursing colleges.

DA shadow MEC for health John Cupido said the budget did not address the concerns about the department's infrastructure backlog.

Congress of the People's Nkosinathi Kuluta said: "On paper it seems like infrastructure is a priority, but in reality the funds will be used for something else like compensation of employees. We accept the figures but with much reservation. We know that health has been limping since day one."

Referring to fraud and corruption within the department, Gqobana said more than R80-million had been recovered during the anti-corruption clean-up in the current financial year.

"Future savings amount to R335271072.17. The department will continue in its efforts to root out corruption and fraud and work with other departments and law enforcement agencies to that effect," added Gqobana.

He said his department, which had been targeted by syndicates, was committed to installing "a pro-active anti-corruption culture and eradicating systemic fraud and corruption".

"We are able to report a 100% success rate in matters referred by the fraud management unit - 19 matters have been reported to the SAPS for criminal action," he said.

To date several officials from the department, including superintendent-general Lawrence Boya, are facing criminal charges of fraud and corruption.

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