KwaZulu-Natal Premier Willies Mchunu has invited the global community, especially governments and stakeholders in the health industry within the BRICS bloc to work with KwaZulu-Natal government to create a healthy society capable of driving socio-economic development. Critically, Mchunu is enlisting expertise the province is preparing for the implementation of the National Health Insurance. KZN has been piloting NHI in various hospitals in eThekwini, UMgungundlovu and UMzinyathi. NHI will ensure universal access to healthcare services and will reverse imbalances in healthcare provision.
Mchunu today participated in a panel discussion at the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion in Shanghai. This is a gathering of policy makers, ministers, pharmaceutical companies, non-governmental organizations, international funders, researchers and academics, organized by the National Health and Family Planning Commission of China and the World Health Organization.
Mchunu who is accompanied by the MEC for Heath Dr Sbongiseni Dhlomo and Mayor of eThekwini Cllr Zandile Gumede remarked: “We are on the lookout for partnerships and we are continuously learning best practices in healthcare management. The conference has been an eye-opener and provided a platform for us to identify our strengths and weaknesses in our healthcare system.”
“Particularly, in this conference we have acquired extensive knowledge in the area of health promotion, the main focus of this conference. I have often stated in various platforms that while it is true that the prospects for health of the average citizen in this province (life expectancy) have improved, there nevertheless remains a major challenge of health illiteracy.”
“Various forms of preventable diseases continue to undermine the health and quality of life of many people in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of health illiteracy. Currently the status of health literacy in KZN falls short of the ideal. Many people do not have the skills required to obtain, understand and act on health information and services. Nor do they have the ability to make appropriate health decisions on their own.”
“Those who endure the greatest struggles with low health literacy skills are most often older adults and people with lower levels of education. The implications for these more vulnerable groups is that limited health literacy often correlates with a lack of ability to effectively self-manage health, access health services, understand available and relevant information, and make informed health-related decisions.”
“Given that chronic ill-health is the leading cause of death in South Africa, the positive health and lifestyle implications for health literacy are potentially far-reaching.”
“Flowing from this congress, we undertake a health literate campaign in order to create a health society. To be health literate is to be able to access and understand the information required to manage one’s health on a day-to-day basis.”
“Mental health is one area which we undertake to put on top of the agenda. We have undertaken to deal with the stigma associated with mental health and to ensure that our healthcare services are friendly to those affected. We have acknowledged as the provincial government the HIV and Aids pandemic is weighing heavily on the healthcare system as some of those affected develop mental illness.”
“We have however expressed our commitment towards putting in place plans to deal with these challenges and we invite the international community to work with us.”
“Critically, guided by the theme Healthy City, Healthy Mind, we want to ensure that municipalities such as eThekwini under the leadership of Cllr Gumede, are at the forefront of the implementation of programmes focusing on health promotion and creation of a health literate society. Ideally, a health-literate individual is able to seek and assess the health information required to understand and carry out instructions for self-care, including the administering of complex daily medical regimens.”
Spokesperson for the Premier