Health services in Nelson Mandela Bay got a major boost on Friday after a new “centre of excellence” was opened to cope with the difficult strain of extremely drug resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) and its impact on patients in the region.
A first-of-its-kind, 40-bed XDR-TB ward was opened at Jose Pearson TB Hospital in Port Elizabeth by Eastern Cape Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health, Sicelo Gqobana, officials from the Department of Health and top municipal and health sector officials.
Sod was also turned on the second – and more complex – phase of the Jose Pearson TB Hospital upgrade to mark the onset of construction of the new pharmacy and outpatient department (OPD) sections of the hospital.
“Today we are delivering best practice, the first of its kind XDR-TB ward in the country,” said Gqobana, adding that the model would be replicated around the country as it represented a centre of excellence in health.
Gqobana also said the department did not have “the luxury of time” when it came to delivering services to the people and that infrastructure projects were an integral part of addressing the challenges in the health sector, of which the new ward, pharmacy and OPD centre at Jose Pearson were leading examples.
The second phase of the R19-million construction project will see the establishment of top-class facilities to serve the local community, the department said at the event. The project is being managed by the Coega Development Corporation (CDC), the department’s implementing agent on a range of provincial projects.
“This highly important project is geared to meet the needs of people with TB in Nelson Mandela Bay,” said Eastern Cape Health MEC, Sicelo Gqobana.
A mixed mode approach – focussing on social and infrastructural interventions – for dealing with site-specific challenges at Jose Pearson has resulted in improved TB cure rates, Gqobana said. “Before we started here, Jose Pearson was very unstable. There were no recreational services or facilities and as a result many of the patients absconded and started to default on their treatment, a tragic situation for managing TB. So we focused on building sporting and recreational facilities and engaged with the patients and their families to understand and meet their needs.
“We also embraced a community management approach in terms of TB treatment and those who are not highly contagious are now treated in the community. All of these interventions have resulted in an improved cure rate for TB patients, something we are very proud of.”
“In terms of the construction we are already hard at work with the first phase, which has focused on putting priority works – such as new fencing, security and lighting – in place and we are now ready to tackle the major construction works.”
The second phase started today as ground was broken on the site of the new pharmacy, led by Masithembeke Construction.
“This new construction phase will create about 50 jobs,” said Gqobana. “The SMME component which aims for 35% small business participation will also see about R6.7-million of the project value earmarked for SMMEs. We are thinking about communities from beginning to end. Even at the construction phase we are focused on participation and equitable distribution.”
The OPD construction will see a dispensary, two consultation rooms, two offices, staff ablutions and facilities, a bulk store with proper cold room storage facility and an outpatient collection from dispensary go up.
“The CDC has a major presence in health care upgrades throughout the province and this forms a crucial part of our organisational focus on socio-economic development. A healthy population and labour force is pivotal to a successful local economy and the CDC is proud to be part of sustained moves by the Department of Health to revitalize the sector and service the people of the province,” said Ayanda Vilakazi, CDC head of marketing and communications.
The CDC is currently working on planning and execution of about 51 construction and upgrade projects throughout the Eastern Cape and providing maintenance across four provincial clusters.
The ground-breaking comes as part of the Department of Health’s province-wide move to renew the health sector. “The quality of the services we give to our people – and the environment we create for health care practitioners – should reinstate their self-worth,” said Gqobana. “The Department of Health is committed to changing the face of health care in the province by investing heavily in such refurbishments, facilities and, of course, quality staff to deliver services and therefore hope to the people.”
José Pearson TB hospital is a 230 bed hospital which also provides emergency services, medical services, paediatrics, Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART), occupational, pharmacy and TB services, as well as prevention of mother to child transmission and voluntary counselling and testing. The construction runs for 11 months and will be completed by August 2014.
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