Speaking at the launch, Motsoaledi noted that the burden of diseases facing South Africa will only be addressed if the country has adequate human resources for all health programmes and interventions.
“Improving human planning, development and management is instrumental in the overhaul of the health system. It is a strategic intervention whose objectives will contribute significantly to improved health outcomes.
“A number of studies and our own assessment attest to significant gaps in the planning, production and deployment of human resources for health. This strategy proposes interventions to deal with these multi-pronged push and pull factors that result in an in adequate health workforce and weak HR capacity,” Motsoaledi said.
He stressed that for the plan to succeed, there needs to be improved coordination between health systems planning and health professional training and development.
The minister acknowledged Wits University for responding to his call made last year for universities to increase the intake of medical students by increasing its intake by 40 students in the medical programme, at an additional cost of R8 million.
Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister, Professor Hlengiwe Mkhize, congratulated Motsoaledi for launching the strategy ahead of other ministries.
He said there was a need to put more effort into accommodating students from rural communities, who after completing their training, would return to service their communities.
Mkhize also raised concern at the small number of women acquiring critical skills. “We need to increase those numbers, including people with disabilities, to ensure that they also succeed in those critical skills.”
World Health Organisation Regional Director, Dr Louis Sambo, reiterated the need for sharing the resources between public and private health sectors.
“Most of our people are poor and can’t afford to pay high prices. Government has to ensure universal access to health care. We also have to address the working and social conditions of health care workers … We need to analyse and find ways to deal with them,” Sambo said.
He commended Motsoaledi for his effort to strengthen the health sector’s facilities to address the health needs, adding that South Africa had the potential to improve the MDGs indicators.
“Through this strategy, the country’s health will improve within the next few years and we would be able to celebrate more improvements,” he said.