DENOSA hopes Finance Minister keeps his hands off Health’s cookie jar.

Wednesday, 01 November 2023

PRETORIA – As the Minister of Finance will be tabling the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament later today, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) is hoping that the government will fulfill its undertaking to safeguard essential services like public healthcare from the cost-containment measures that it is implementing across its departments due to its coffers drying up while the health budget has been standstill at R259 billion for two consecutive financial years in 2022 and 2023.

The minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, gave us hope in his recent briefing about the country’s state of health when he said they have pleaded the case for the Department of Health to both the Cabinet and Minister of Finance, and that Minister Enoch Godongwane will make a relief announcement on health in his speech tomorrow.

The COVID-19 pandemic placed many healthcare services on the back banner, including mental illnesses diagnosis and treatment, TB diagnosis and treatment, elective theatre procedures, other vaccinations, and HIV diagnosis and treatment. Resources for these services were reallocated towards COVID-19. Kickstarting these services, including human resources, will require more that R11 billion the health budget was increased by since 2021.

Instead of seeing the budget increase for the first time in two years, chances are that it may face a further cut due to the austerity measures that are applied, which is likely to affect infrastructural programmes the most.

As DENOSA, we hope the Minister makes a good concession on health due to the essential nature of healthcare services for both current and future patients in healthcare services.

As matters stand, the budget allocation for health is insufficient already as it has been standstill at R259 billion in the past two financial years at a time when the burden of diseases and population numbers are on the steady increase.

Already, the health budget is not even meeting all the essential needs of the department like personnel numbers in healthcare facilities, equipment, and other essential resources.  

Cutting the budget on health will only worsen the already constrained department, which will translate to a lowered quality of services for the majority of citizens.

DENOSA suggests that the Finance Ministry look at various avenues to manage the government wastage like cleaning up of the PERSAL system which still pays ghost employees.

The country’s health department is faced with an extra added pressure of brain drain as more and more experienced and highly skilled healthcare professionals are leaving the public sector for greener pastures overseas without any base remaining as potential filler for the gaps left by the leaving professionals.

For a number of years now, nursing specialty programmes at the country’s institutions of higher learning have not been offered as the profession was going through a curriculum change that required the reaccreditation of all nursing programmes. This meant nurses did not study for specializations like ICU, Emergency, theatre, oncology, orthopedic, peadiatric and many other nursing specialisations.

When many of the nurses with these specialist nursing skills leave for overseas, there are no nurses to replace them locally, which means patients will not be cared for adequately and in line with their healthcare needs in the country’s facilities.

DENOSA hopes the minister will at least announce that he is taking his hands off the healthcare budget, in the best interest of the patients and vulnerable members of the community.


Issued by DENOSA.

For more information and interview request, contact:

Sibongiseni Delihlazo, DENOSA Spokesperson.

Mobile: 072 584 4175.

Tel: 012 343 2315.