South Africans would probably define an “ideal clinic” as one that opened on time and did not close until the last patient was helped, even if this was beyond the set closing time, he said at the launch of the “ideal clinic realisation and maintenance” initiative at the Sefako Makgatho Presidential Guest House in Pretoria.
“It is staffed by health care providers who treat people with dignity, and observe the Batho Pele principles of access, consultation, courtesy, information, service standards, openness and transparency, redress and value for money.”
The ideal clinic would be clean, promote hygiene, and take precautions to prevent the spread of disease.
“It has reasonable waiting times and community members do not have to sacrifice their entire working day to seek health care,” Zuma said.
“It provides a comprehensive package of good quality health services every day and community members do not have to return on different days for different services.”
He hailed the work of professors Sidney Kark and his wife Emily Kark, who introduced a community-based approach to health care in Pholela, KwaZulu-Natal, in the 1940s.
“When the apartheid nationalist government ascended to power in 1948, the pioneering work of the Kark family was reversed. However, their work was not in vain, as community oriented primary care remains highly relevant to health care delivery in South Africa today.”
Zuma said that access to primary health care, measured by the number of visits to state health facilities, almost doubled from 1998 to 2013.
The legacy of apartheid meant that rural areas and former homelands often had health facilities that were not equal to those in larger cities.
The National Development Plan envisioned “a health system that works for everyone, produces positive health outcomes, and is not out of reach”.
This could only be achieved through a well-functioning health system based on primary health care principles.
Zuma said that in the last five weeks, a team of 164 senior managers from the three spheres of government, the private sector, organised labour, academia, civil society, and public entities had been devising strategies for making the ideal clinic concept a reality.