Valedictory speech Prof Di McIntyre

‘A Universal Health System for South Africa, some final words on the NHI’ – the title of Prof Di McIntyre’s valedictory lecture.

It is long; however, it is worth the listen if you are interested in the South African Healthcare system, the NHI and where we are now.
Prof McIntyre was part of the team that launched Africa’s first Health Economics Unit (HEU) and she has published, advised and collaborated widely. I have been reading and following her work as well as others at the HEU for the past few years
Valedictory lectures are often used as a reflection, Prof McIntyre used her valedictory to make an appeal to the Minister of Health regarding new committees and a potential change in direction of the proposed NHI. In her speech she states that
“I’m appealing to the minister because the minister is the person who can change this. He’s the one who put out the gazette with the different committees. They have put it on hold and they’ve now invited additional comment until the end of November. He can stop this. He can stop this insanity.”
She touches on other issues including how managers in public healthcare are incapacitated by the system to manage effectively. She also mentions that we require more community health programs to increase access to care. I am hopefully posting another blog on EFAR soon (a community first aid response system).
I also thought that her comment that over-servicing in the private health sector is rational economic behavior interesting and will be reading more on the topic.
Please have a listen

In case of emergency….

A few days ago I was meeting a friend that is never late and is basically glued to her phone.  So when she was 30 minutes late, not answering her phone, not reading or replying to messages, I started worrying about her.  I ran through few worse-case scenarios, including an accident etc.

And as I was going through scenario’s I realised that if something happened to her and she was unresponsive I had no way of informing her parents, siblings or other close friends.  I also had no idea whether she is on medical aid, her past medical history, her allergies etc. Somehow we’ve never covered these things in our general conversations. And then I thought that as friends that hike together, go camping and do other outdoors stuff, it’s actually irresponsible and risky not to know these basics about friends.

A quick check with some other friends revealed that most of us have never thought about emergency preparedness as a ‘friend responsibility’.  Since then I’ve been on a mission to get a few basic things sorted and to educate some of my friends of the importance of sharing emergency contact details. I think that it’s especially important for those of us that live far away from our family, we will have to rely on our friends should anything happen.   

So here is a few things that you can do today, it’s by no means exhaustive, but it covers the basics!

  • Ask your friends for their closest family member’s contact details, this includes a physical address.  In case of an injury or sudden severe illness, you want to know that you can get hold of their family.
  • Ask your friends for their basic medical information including known allergies, if they are on chronic medication and maybe even whether they are organ donors, their blood type etc.
  • Confirm if they are on medical aid and know where they keep their medical aid cards and identity documents.  And remember to always take these with when you go camping or hiking.
  • At least one other friend should have access to your house. And maybe  even know where you keep your important documents including a will, information on disability cover etc.
  • Know this: if a phone is locked you can still access emergency services on the phone, press on the screen and dial 112.  I think that this is really important to teach children so that they can obtain help should something happen to a parent.



Press Emergency button


Use your phone! Save your emergency details and basic information on your phone, I’m not sure how this works on other phones  but here goes for iPhone: Go to the health app, click on medical ID.  Enter your details; emergency contacts and add medical aid details at medical notes.


In order to access the patient’s emergency contact details on a locked phone, simply press on emergency and it will give you the option to select medical ID.  Click on that, viola! Not only do you have the medical details, but you can also call the emergency contacts and access their information such as physical address.

As the boy scouts say: Be Prepared!

This is not my normal type of blog, I just really felt that I had to share it though.  Please share and if you have more tips feel free to comment and add. 



Gratitude for our Health Care system

I’m not a fan of the latest fad on facebook to nominate people to publically do gratitude.  That being said it has inspired me to do a little gratitude for the South African Health Care system.  A system that I think we do not always appreciate enough!

I have been very blessed to have had exposure to other African country’s health systems and I made this list after collating field notes after visiting health facilities in Zambia, Tanzania and Angola.

Yes there are South Africans especially in the Eastern Cape and the Free State that would find the below little list all too familiar however most of us can appreciate that:

  • We do not need to walk for hours to reach the closest very basic health care facility
  • We do not need to arrange for our own transport when our condition is too serious at a health care facility and we need referral
  • We do not need to arrange our own transport when involved in a motor vehicle accident
  • Our own transport does not involve ox wagons, wheel barrows or being carried by our neighbour
  • When admitted to hospital, as part of the service we are fed and we do not have to rely on our family to sleep outside of the facility in order to bring us meals during meal times
  • Hospitals have safe running tap water, we do not need to walk 700 meters to the closest pitted well for water to take our tablets
  • We generally work at a better ratio than 7 doctors giving orders whilst  1 nurse executes the orders
  • If we are assaulted we can go to the hospital first and the police later as opposed to vice versa in these countries
  • We do not follow a “gross triage protocol” where you are extubated in the emergency centre should there not be enough beds in ICU.  If you survive extubation you go to the ward.  If you don’t survive it, well then you don’t really need a bed do you?
  • We have Ambulance services that are run by qualified prehospital practitioners with equipment and supplies inside of them as opposed to a stretcher and single driver system
  • We have created a capacity to deal with major incidents
  • Most of our waiting rooms and areas at health care facilities are inside a building, offering some protection against environmental elements like wind, rain, cold.

So today I’m simply saying thank you for our health care system in South Africa.  We are blessed in so many ways.

IMG_6039 Hand washing facility in health care facility

IMG_5887 Waiting area.