During the 2014/2015 North West Province Department of Health’s (NW DoH) budget speech on August 19th, MEC for Health, Dr Magome Masike, highlighted their plans to advance eHealth in the province.

“On Health Information Systems (HIS) and steps to improve the non-financial performance data, the Department has been awarded R920,000 by the Belgian-South African Study and Consultancy Fund to evaluate Routine HIS (RHIS),” said Dr Masike.

According to Dr Masike, a ten month study to conduct a cross-sectional base-line assessment of RHIS has already begun. “This assessment will guide the Department to improve the performance and information data systems and IT infrastructure, in a scientific manner, to ensure that the Department becomes a truly responsive health service provider, based on quality and timely data and information,” said Dr Masike.

During the speech Dr Masike also described how the NW DoH is developing their ART monitoring programme through the use of the Tier.Net system. “We started with paper based reporting, and currently 257 facilities are on the electronic system. 185,302 patients were on ART by the end of financial year March 2013/14. The aim is to roll out the system to all our Primary Health Care (PHC) facilities to ensure coverage and effective programme reporting and monitoring in 2014/15.”

Dr Masike also spoke about the benefits MomConnect will bring to improving the province’s Maternal Child and Women’s Health and Nutrition Programme. “This innovation, MomConnect, will give power to the pregnant woman to seek health and demand good treatment,” said Dr Masike.

Special focus was also given to the National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot district in the province: “I am happy to report that the phased-in implementation of NHI is progressing well at the pilot district despite challenges experienced,” said Dr Masike.

According to Dr Masike, in order to meet the NHI requirements the NW DoH set out to improve training on nursing, EMRS and medical care to strengthen PHC and health care service delivery. “We also promised to enhance the pilot district’s capacity in the areas of District Health Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation. One of the key interventions is strengthening the referral system based on a re-engineered PHC platform with a particular focus in rural and previously disadvantaged areas.”

Other key aspects of the speech included promises for improved service delivery, longer operation hours for healthcare facilities and the creation of news clinics and hospitals. There was also focus on the RRR (repositioning, rebranding and renewal) programme; “we have set aside a budget of R100m for maintenance on 30 facilities across the province and decentralised maintenance budget to the district. Constant monitoring and support will be provided to ensure that all these facilities are well maintained within 2014/15,” said Dr Masike.

“Health as a service requires all of us as partners  – private sector, civil society and government to work together to fight and prevent diseases, build health infrastructure and invest in the health of the future generation as we move forward,” concluded Dr Masike.

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