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Private sector injects millions into public healthcare

Written by Albert Pule
Private companies in the health sector have committed millions of rands to help government fight the scourge of HIV and AIDS, Tuberculosis (TB) and to deal with the shortage of doctors.

Clicks Holdings, Netcare, Medscheme, United Pharmaceutical Distributors (UPD), Clinics Healthcare, Litha Healthcare and Medi-Clinic have signed a three-year multi-million rand Social Compact Agreement with the Department of Health.

According to the agreement, the companies committed to contribute 0.75 per cent of their net profit after tax to the South African Joint Public Health Enhancement Fund.

The fund is expected to boost government’s effort to support post-graduate students pursuing health related studies, build additional capacity in the management of TB, HIV and AIDS and provide support to the newly established Academy for Leadership and Management in Healthcare.

Speaking at the launch, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said he hoped the fund would encourage other private companies to assist government deal with the challenges facing the public health system.

“It is our hope that the launch of the Social Compact Agreement will motivate many more private healthcare companies to join the initiative and invest in health,” the Minister said.

The Social Compact Agreement is the first point in the Ten Point Programme of the department’s plan to transform the health sector.

Clicks Group CEO David Kneale said the agreement would help increase capacity in the healthcare profession. “It’s a logical step, the private sector has the funding, the expertise and resources to help re-engineer the healthcare system and we look forward to working together to build much needed capacity within the healthcare profession.”

He added that Clicks remained committed to increasing access to primary healthcare for all South Africans and would continually engage the department on innovative public-private primary healthcare models.

Medscheme CEO André Meyer said the agreement gave the private sector and government an opportunity to pool resources together for the greater good of the country.

“We believe that partnerships between the private and public healthcare sectors are absolutely crucial given the magnitude of the challenges facing the health sector. Government has also made a call, that it (government) should not take sole responsibility as it is the responsibility of all role players.”

Meyer said Medscheme wanted to be part of the transformation of the health sector. “It is crucial that the government’s vision for trans- forming the healthcare sector in South Africa is successful as it will benefit society as a whole. As a major player in the industry we have a responsibility to be part of the transformation process,” he added.