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State of the Nation: Great expectations for 2012

State of the Nation
Great expectations for 2012

Health: On the road to recovery

South Africa’s health system is recovering following major initiatives to strengthen the system.

In June last year, the Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi noted that the health system needed a major overhaul to prevent a crisis. The Minister outlined his plan of action, which includes four key priorities:

  • to increase life expectancy 
  • reduce maternal and child mortality 
  • intensify the fight against HIV and AIDS, as well as TB, and 
  • to strengthen the effectiveness of the healthcare system.

The initiatives that were introduced last year serve as a foundation to build on during 2012. Achievements include:

  • a meeting on non-communicable diseases and developing a programme of action to combat such diseases 
  • increased access to antiretroviral therapy and technology to diagnose drug-resistant TB
  • consensus with key stakeholders on maternal, neonatal, infant and child mortality rates; and 
  • a Green Paper and national conference on the National Health Insurance (NHI).

When put into practice, the NHI will dramatically change the face of healthcare delivery in South Africa.

In a landmark achievement, 13 million people tested for HIV and eight million were screened for TB between April 2010 and June 2011.

Education: Towards quality teaching and learning for all

Strengthening learners’ literacy and numeracy ability is the key objective for 2012 and beyond, said Director-General of Basic Education, Bobby Soobrayan. For this reason, the department has developed several initiatives to ensure that every learner in South Africa can access quality education.

This year, the department will introduce its new comprehensive strategy called the Integrated National Literacy and Numeracy Strategy: A Whole School Approach. It will be used to achieve the literacy and numeracy goals set out in the department’s action plan, which will run until 2014.

The annual national assessments started in 2011 will continue in 2012 to improve literacy and numeracy. In addition, the department will expand its workbook programme. Through the Quality Learning and Teaching campaign, the department will continue to mobilise South Africans to create awareness of the President’s call that “education is a societal matter”.

Safety and Security: Building on past success for a safer South Africa

The reduction in crime last year can largely be attributed to the successes of the South African Police Service (SAPS). Along with other initiatives, such as better community, engagement and cooperation have played a significant role in stabilising crime.

Government believes that people should feel safe in their homes, in their communities and at their workplaces. The SAPS is therefore focusing on visible policing. This includes partnerships with various role players from government, business, municipalities and other interests group. Improving police response and the fair distribution of police stations remains a priority for the year ahead.

Eradication of women and child abuse is another area that will continue to receive special attention. The reintroduction of the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences units will help significantly to achieve this goal.

Government views safety and security of rural communities as a key priority. The Rural Safety Plan, a combined effort by farmers and farm workers, rural communities and the police in various provinces, will address safety and security.

Training is also crucial in improving policing. For this reason, the department is revising its training programmes.

The White Paper for Safety and Security is also being reviewed. This will lead to the revision of the SAPS Act, transformation of the police and direction of policing.

Women, Children and People with Disabilities: Great progress towards empowerment

The Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities has made great progress in empowering the historically neglected. This year, the department will build on initiatives started in 2011.

These include the launch of the Techno-Girl project, which encourages girls to pursue careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.

To ensure that issues of rural women remain on government’s agenda, the department hosted the National Rural Women Summit in Limpopo last year, as well as two provincial summits in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. The summits served as platforms for rural women to influence Government’s Women Empowerment Strategy.

To address children’s rights, the department has developed a framework to guide departments and civil society organisations to make children’s rights issues part of their governance processes.

At the end of last year, the department launched the Universal Accessibility Campaign. Until March 2014, the campaign will be focusing on reasonable accommodation in the workplace, access to government buildings, public transport and social security.

To address gender violence, the department is planning to establish a national council against gender-based violence in the first quarter of 2012. The council will review and monitor the implementation of the existing 365 Days National Action Plan for No Violence Against Women and Children.

-Samona Murugan