Collaboration can help alleviate the burden of disease

Posted on 4 October 2017

A successful partnership between the public sector and Mediclinic means that some patients can have life-changing surgery sooner than they had first hoped.

As part of an ongoing initiative to expand quality healthcare across South Africa, Mediclinic has partnered with Groote Schuur Hospital and the Western Cape Department of Health – and recently performed eight successful cataract surgeries at Mediclinic Milnerton.

‘This collaboration is a very positive one, not just for Groote Schuur but for healthcare in general,’ says Dr Bhavna Patel, CEO of Groote Schuur Hospital. ‘By sharing the responsibility for healthcare with the private sector we can improve the lives of many more patients. These eight eye surgeries are “small wins” but every little bit makes a difference.’

Dr Patel adds that in the public health environment, resources are stretched with regard to budget and staff. ‘We are functioning at capacity and there is a limit to what we can do,’ she says. ‘What we can provide simply isn’t meeting the growing needs of our patients. And more people are entering the public health system because they can’t afford private healthcare.’

South Africa’s disease profile is changing – and younger people are getting ill. ‘In fifteen years time, we’ll be sitting with a very ill population that those of us in the health industry will need to serve,’ Dr Patel says. ‘We anticipate that we need to plan our health services adequately for the future to be able to deal with the disease burden we’re facing. The growth of the health industry has not been keeping up with the demands from patients. We need to start doing something differently.’

As Dr Mvula Yoyo, Transformation Executive of Mediclinic Southern Africa states, ‘We acknowledge that the public health sector is the backbone of South Africa’s healthcare system. We feel the private healthcare sector needs to complement the support offered by the “backbone” by acting as “the ribcage”. And obviously, the patient is at the heart.’

The eight cataract procedures recently undertaken at Mediclinic Milnerton form part of an initiative where Mediclinic will collaborate with the public sector on more than 100 operations on patients currently awaiting life-changing procedures. Operations include cataract, urology and tympanoplasty (otherwise known as eardrum repair procedures). Between September and December, these procedures will be carried out at four Mediclinic hospitals in the Western Cape, either by doctors associated with Mediclinic or from the public sector.

Dr Yoyo adds that the relatively uncomplicated procedures Mediclinic performs as part of this initiative means state hospitals then have the capacity to tackle more complicated surgeries.

As Dr Patel says, ‘We hope we can expand this collaborative initiative beyond Groote Schuur hospital to the public service in the Western Cape. There are huge healthcare needs elsewhere in the country too. The opportunity exists for the private healthcare sector as a whole to get more involved.’

Published in CSI