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The Portfolio Committee on Health was briefed by the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) on the annual inspection report for the 2016/17 financial year recently at Parliament.

Briefing the committee, the OHSC said 696 routine inspections were conducted, surpassing the 649 inspections undertaken during the 2016/17 financial year. All inspections undertaken according to the OHSC are unannounced.

The committee welcomed the report, however, it was of the view that the OHSC failed to provide solutions to the challenges identified at the health establishments. The committee noted that challenges are mainly at a provincial level, as they deal with human resources, and financial and supply chain management.

The committee also expressed dissatisfaction with the OHSC’s recommendations, noting that they should be directed to the provinces, not the national department. The committee said once a problem has been identified by OHSC during an inspection, remedial action should be provided to each hospital or clinic. 

The committee wanted to know from OHSC if it engages with the hospitals and clinics after the inspections have been conducted, as it believes that identifying problems without providing solutions is not helpful. The law mandates the OHSC to provide remedial actions.

Nonetheless, the OHSC’s report is useful, the committee believes, as it identifies non-compliant health establishments. It is also important that OHSC assists the Department of Health in addressing its challenges, as some of the problems identified affect all the establishments inspected.

The committee chairperson Ms Lindelwa Dunjwa said it is important to note that the results do not paint an entire reflection of health establishments, however the report highlights the serious challenges that the health sector is facing.

The OHSC has been created by the National Health Amendment Act of 2013 and, in terms of section 78 of the Act, the objects of the Office are to protect and promote the health and safety of users of health services by, monitoring and enforcing compliance by health establishments with norms and standards prescribed by the Minister of Health in relation to the national health system, ensuring consideration, investigation and disposal of complaints relating to non-compliance with prescribed norms and standards for health establishments in a procedurally fair, economical and expeditious manner.

The functions of the OHSC are set out in Section 29 of the Act which states that the Office must, among other things, advise the Minister of Health on determining norms and standards that are to be prescribed for the national health system and on the review of such norms and standards, inspect and certify health establishments as compliant or non-compliant with prescribed norms and standards or, where appropriate, withdraw such certification and recommend to the Minister quality assurance and management systems for the national health system.

Yoliswa Landu