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HEALTH COMMITTEE BRIEFED BY HEALTH OMBUDSMAN

Parliament, The Portfolio Committee on Health was briefed by the Office of the Health Standard Compliance (OHSC) and Health Ombudsman on its annual performance plan (APP) for 2019/20.

Briefing the committee, OHSC's Chief Executive, Dr Siphiwe Mndaweni, said the certification of compliance with regulated standards is a prerequisite for funding for the National Health Insurance (NHI) Fund.

Committee Chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said the presentation by OHSC was quite an eye-opener as the office looks at norms and standards that health institutions need to comply with. We would like, as the committee, to commend the work that is being done by the OHSC, so that as NHI is being implemented, more and more facilities are meeting the standards of quality of service, Dr Dhlomo said.

The Health Ombudsman, Prof Malegapuru Makgoba, briefed the committee on the challenges and frustrations he is faced with as the Health Ombudsman. In his opening remarks, he first alluded to Life Esidimeni where he said there will never be another Life Esidimeni, this was a special operation which received special attention.

He informed the committee that there is an explosion of mental health in the world. South Africa needs to respond to the mental explosion as the country responded to the pandemic of HIV/Aids. European countries are looking into mental health.

Prof Makgoba pleaded with the committee to look at the legislation that led to the establishment of the Health Ombud. He said: The office is not independent as the Health Ombud reports directly to the Minister. Parliament expects me to be independent, I report to the Minister, how can I be independent? There are contradictions that are created in the Act. Offices of Health Ombudsman in the world deal with maladministration in health said Prof Makgoba.

Parliament has an answer to this issue, Prof Makgoba said, the health summit debated the matter, and something needs to be done on these two offices, the OHSC and Health Ombud. The fifth Parliament tried to address this matter without any success.

Committee Chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said: On this issue, we will be appraised by the Department of Health in order to understand the concern raised by Prof Makgoba. This issue came out in the legacy report of the fifth Parliament.

The committee will not discuss the matter for now, it will be food for though and we will sort it out at another time, said Dr Dhlomo.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

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