By Ngwako Motsieng

It is the mark of any worth leader to share his/her vision with the team under his/her authority. This is important for two reasons. A leader needs a team that buys into the set vision. It is also crucial that the team that does the work in implementing the vision is well informed of the direction the leader wants it to move.

During the month of July 2019, Members of the Executive Committee (MECs) in the North West Province presented their visions as leaders of respective portfolios. I took interest in MEC Madoda Sambatha’s blueprint for the Health department.

MEC Sambatha used the opportunity to outline a plan that will guide his term of office from 2019 to 2024. The plan is centered on ten focus areas that he said are his performance indicators.

The World Bank describes performance indicators as measures of inputs, processes, outputs, outcomes, and impacts for development projects, programs, or strategies.

Where performance indicators are supported with sound data collection, they enable managers to track progress, demonstrate results, and take corrective action to improve service delivery. Participation of key stakeholders in defining indicators is important because they are then more likely to understand and use indicators for management decision-making.

The performance indicators that the people of the North West Province should use to judge the term of office of MEC Sambatha include improved security services for health professionals and at health facilities as Governance and consequence management. He wants to use his tenure to improve health promotion and communication to communities. This requires that the department strengthens community mobilisation in health promotion, screening, disease prevention, rehabilitation and early treatment of diseases.

The implementation of the 90-90-90 Strategy for HIV and TB is another key indicator. This strategy is based on the rationale that there is an estimated number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) and TB in the province and the aim is to ensure that 90% of PLHIV know their HIV status and 90% of PLHIV are initiated and remain on ART treatment. It has been established that 90% of those on ART are virally suppressed. The same will apply to people living with TB.

The health of children and women is a cornerstone of every nation. Maternal child and women’s health and improved chronic disease management is an important contributor to human development in general. MEC Sambatha said the department will continue to employ various methods to encourage women to visit antenatal clinics as soon as they find out that they are pregnant.

The availability of medicines and surgical supplies together with improved Emergency Medical Services are closer to the heart of public health users. It is encouraging that MEC Sambatha wants these critical indicators to define his term of office.

For a healthcare system to function effectively, health service infrastructure and human resources for health needs to top the agenda. Health facilities should reflect a place of healing from the outside and health professionals should make the stay of public health users at health facilities pleasant. It is a big ask to achieve these but MEC Sambatha wants health infrastructure and human resource to be part of his legacy when his term of office expires in 2024. This is commendable.

Universal health coverage through the National Health Insurance (NHI) is closer to becoming a reality after Cabinet approved the NHI Bill of 2018. The purpose of the NHI is to ensure universal health coverage to all South Africans including the citizens of the North West Province. According to the World Health Organization, universal health coverage means that all people can use the promotive, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative health services they need. It also ensures that services are of acceptable quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the use of these services does not expose the user to financial hardship. MEC Sambatha wants the implementation of NHI in the province to have a smooth landing and he wants his tenure to be measured against the success of the NHI too.

These performance indicators place the communities of the North West Province at the center of health service provision. They are in line with the African National Congress manifesto, Chapter 10 of the National Development Plan, directives from the State of the Province Address by Professor Job Mokgoro and the priorities of the National Ministry of Health.

· Motsieng is a public servant and writes in his personal capacity.