The R1 billion Dr Harry Surtie Hospital that was officially opened in Upington on September 2nd is one of the 43 new state-of-the-art hospitals that the National Department of Health (NDoH) plans on building across South Africa within the next five years.

The hospital was officially opened by President Jacob Zuma as part of government’s infrastructure roll-out programme.

“Over and above the new hospitals, 216 new clinics will also be built by the NDoH, and 816 old hospitals across the country will be renovated,” said Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

Minister Motsoaledi said these developments will be done to accomplish the National Health Insurance (NHI) mission, which will ensure that everyone has access to appropriate, efficient and quality health services.

Minister Motsoaledi said his department deliberately built state-of-the-art hospitals in small towns and rural areas to provide quality services to the public and to attract more doctors to serve the public. “Quite often when you ask doctors why they don’t go to the rural areas they will tell you that there is no equipment. Some will tell you that they want to advance their careers and it won’t be possible in rural area,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

Minister Motsoaledi said the equipment found in the recently built hospital was of a world class standard and of advanced technology. “Lodox Machine (X-ray scanner) is one of the state-of-the-art equipment in Dr Harry Surtie Hospital, which is a home-grown South African product,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

President Zuma said building decent health facilities is designed to move South Africa forward. “Together we will move our country forward to security and comfort for all. I committed our government during the State of the Nation Address this year that the target for this administration is to ensure that at least 4.6 million people are enrolled in the antiretroviral programme,” said President Zuma.

The new hospital serves the western half of the Northern Cape Province; Upington alone has a population of about 70,000 people. “Many people in and around the area of Upington continue to benefit, and economic growth and development shows positive trends. However, we must intensify our efforts at improving the training of clinical staff,” said President Zuma.

President Zuma said the transfer of hospital services from the old Gordonia Hospital to the new Dr Harry Surtie Hospital has provided an opportune moment for training through expanding nursing college facilities. “In addition to the Henrietta Stockdale Nursing College in Kimberley, I am pleased to announce that there will be satellite colleges in Upington, De Aar and Kuruman,” said President Zuma.

President Zuma further announced that the new Upington Nursing College will be located at the old Gordonia Hospital site. “There will be improved access to training for our nurses and ensuring that training takes place within the province,” President Zuma said.

“Through the Service Transformation Plan (STP), government is committed to the reconfiguration of services to ensure a larger proportion of the population have appropriate access to district, regional and tertiary hospital services,” concluded President Zuma.

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