Last Friday, the Western Cape DoH’s Public Private Health Forum (PPHF) provided a platform for key government officials to present important financial and business practices of the public health system.

Head of the Western Cape DoH, Dr Beth Engelbrecht, opened the event by explaining the current financial situation of the department.

The department’s budget has been cut by 18% by the NDoH. At the same time, wage increases amounting to R1.2 bn for 2017/2018 mean that the department will have to reduce expenses by the same amount, all while facing a 3% growth in population and increase in the burden of disease per year.

The Western Cape DoH is in favour of working with local SME’s and find creative solutions to address the financial difficulties they are currently facing, and are working hard to build a system of resilience to respond to the pressure.

“To do this we need to be more creative to secure goods and services,” said Dr Engelbrecht. “We have specific values that drive leadership and the system, and we expect the same values from our partners.”

Director of Enterprise Development at the Department of Economic Development, Joshua Wolmarans, was the first presenter and provided an overview of how the supply chain process works in government.

Wolmarans explained that the procurement of goods and services is a compliance driven procedure with specific legislative requirements, and if carried out correctly and honestly, can drive socio-economic change.

“Procurement is an important instrument in growing businesses and creating jobs and economic opportunity,” said Wolmarans. “It’s an important means of helping to overcome the three main challenges of poverty, inequality and unemployment in the surrounding areas.”

Wolmarans discussed the Regulatory Framework, specifically the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act (PPPFA), which demands for a “fair, transparent, equitable, cost-effective and competitive procurement process.”

Wolmarans added that as part of the department’s policy to help businesses develop and grow, they are committed to engaging with local SMEs who provide high standard goods and services that can be used to provide quality healthcare.

According to Wolmarans, a central database and e-procurement system will be rolled out to all municipalities within the next three to five years. “The Integrated Procurement System (IPS) will track expenditure and link commodities,” said Wolmarans. He added that all suppliers are required to be registered on the database in order to engage with the Western Cape DoH.

Wolmarans explained the application and service delivery process, of which more information can be found here, and closed by saying that the problems associated with procurement often has to do with incorrect management. “Procurement needs to be measured, managed and implemented by competent staff to reduce turnaround times.”

Following Wolmaran’s presentation, a brief overview of the Western Cape Supplier Database (WCSD) was given by a representative of Ariba, Kian Benjamin. “The electronic IPS plays a central role in procurement in the province because it offers supplier quotes in real time and therefore bypasses the need for third party interactions,” said Benjamin. He went on to explain how suppliers can register on the system and submit forms according to contract requirements.

Public Health Technical Assistant and Advisor to the Government Technical Advisory Committee (GTAC), National Treasury, Nomvula Marawa, followed with her presentation on public private partnerships (PPPs) and highlighted the work her department has undertaken.

Marawa explained that while there are a lot of different interpretations, experiences and visions of PPPs, ownership and buy-ins are of the utmost importance. “It’s about planning integration to ensure comprehensive service delivery,” said Marawa. “Technology plays a vital role here in public monitoring because paper gets lost and people move.”

Marawa added that it’s important to draw clear boundaries between different stakeholders and to have defined objectives to overcome any constraints.

Marawa ended her presentation with a reflection of issues, from financial sustainability to inadequate skills and capacity, and noted that in health PPPs, “technology, knowledge and innovation are important in developing skills and quality services.”

Following presentations about revenue from claims against two public sector bodies, the Road Accident Benefit Scheme and compensation for occupational injuries and diseases, Western Cape Minister of Health, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, offered her closing comments.

Dr Mbombo explained that 84% of the province’s population is serviced by the public sector, a number that is growing due to unemployment, and as a result the Western Cape DoH is spending far more on goods and services compared to other departments.

“The supply chain of goods and services is a rule-driven process that relies on compliance and performance,” said Dr Mbombo. “Going forward we need to be innovative and help each other and promote a corrupt-free process to ensure that the clients and patients don’t suffer at the end of the day.”

The next and final PPHF of the year will take place in November and will be based on a topic suggested by members of the forum.

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