Minister Nomofrench Mbombo has revealed that her strategy as the new Western Cape (WC) Minister of Health involves going “back to basics” by promoting healthy lifestyles among communities.

Previously the Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Minister Mbombo replaced Minister Thenus Botha as Minister of Health in a cabinet reshuffle organised by Premier Helen Zille in December 2014. Minister Mbombo has a nursing and midwife background as well as experience teaching at the University of the Western Cape.

During a briefing on January 26th 2015, Minister Mbombo said: “I want to focus on preventative and promotive healthcare. You will not see me in hospitals. You will see me mostly in communities; I want to take health back to the people.”

Minister Mbombo’s plans are inline the WC DoH’s Healthcare 2030 strategy of promoting wellness through a people-centric approach. Premier Zille also stressed the importance of such an approach during the last Public Private Health Forum by stating “we need to stop focusing on ‘healthcare’ and start creating a well society.”

Minister Mbombo said that due to budget constraints and an increasing WC population, the WC DoH had to prioritise decisions relating to the healthcare system. “There will come a time when people compete for beds, so it’s the right time to educate and create awareness so we don’t end up with hospitals overcrowded because everybody is sick,” said Minister Mbombo.

Minister Mbombo noted that the majority of cases presented to healthcare centres could easily have been avoided with the right lifestyle choices and by people taking full responsibility for their wellness.

“I will be leading charge in facilitating community engagement where healthcare is concerned. Individuals, families and communities should be made aware of what ‘wellness’ entails. Being healthy should not be defined as the absence of disease but by living a well-balanced lifestyle,” said Minister Mbombo.

Most patients who use the province’s facilities fall within the “quadruple burden of disease,” which includes HIV and TB, maternal and child health, mental health and injuries often related to alcohol abuse.

Minister Mbombo concluded by saying she plans to work with other departments to create awareness “around this scourge.” Minster Mbombo also plans to strengthen the role of community health workers in the province.

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