SA health ministry begins technology procurement review

13 June 2011

13 June 2011 | Angeline Albert

The South African Department of Health is to investigate the way the country’s provinces procure hi-tech equipment to tackle poor buying in hospitals and clinics.

The review is conducted by the Ministerial Advisory Committee on Health Technology (MAC-HT), and includes an audit of the standard of health technology currently available, such as MRI scanners.

Deputy health minister Gwen Ramokgopa said last week there was a lot of duplication of equipment in provinces. She added one province would often pay more than another for the same technology.

A spokesman for the Department of Health said a shortage of staff with the technical skills to operate and maintain hi-tech devices meant provinces would sometimes buy new equipment because there was no one able to fix existing technology. “Provinces tend to buy everything and anything as long as somebody tells them to,” he said.

The MAC-HT is tasked with developing standards and guidelines for the health technology purchased, to help the minister and the department deliver on a promise to improve its effectiveness by 2014.

A key priority for the Committee is to consult on and finalise the ‘Essential Equipment List’, which will assist the Department of Health in understanding what items are needed to plan, budget, acquire, maintain and dispose of technology in the health service.

Members of the Committee are drawn from the MedicalResearch Council, the Collegeof Medicine, provincial and national health departments, the private sector, healthcare funders and international bodies such as the World Health Organization.

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