Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Presidential Opening of the Dr. Harry Surtie Hospital, Upington

Remarks by His Excellency, President Jacob Zuma at the Official Opening of the New Harry Surtie Hospital, Upington, Northern Cape.

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Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi
Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas
The Surtie family
Traditional leaders
Leaders from Religious communities
Ladies and gentlemen;

It is a great privilege to be with you at this event of the official opening of the Dr Harry Surtie Hospital.

Today is a day of celebration as we open a modern state-of-the art hospital. Our people in 1955 said in the Freedom Charter that there shall be Houses, Security and Comfort.

The charter further states the following:

"A preventive health scheme shall be run by the state;

Free medical care and hospitalisation shall be provided for all, with special care for mothers and young children."

Each day we strive to achieve the goals set out in the Freedom Charter, and institutionalised in the economic rights spelt out in the Constitution of the Republic.

Building decent health facilities is designed to move us a step forward in meeting these goals.

Our founding President Nelson Mandela achieved the goal of free health care especially for mothers and young children.

We are currently working hard to bring into operation the National Health Service, a preventive health scheme that will ensure that quality health care is available to all regardless of economic or financial means.

Together we will move our country forward to security and comfort for all.

Our government is working, and will continue to deliver services to especially the vulnerable in our society.

Over the past five years, 300 new health facilities have been built, including 160 new clinics.

Our good story also includes the remarkable achievements in the fight against HIV and AIDS, which was once a crisis of unimaginable proportions in our country.

The HIV and AIDS turnaround is one of the biggest achievements of the ANC government in the past five years.

Globally, we are used as a model country by the United Nations Aids Programmes (UNAIDS) on this field.

Our mother to child transmission of HIV has declined sharply, and we continue to increase the number of people who are receiving anti-retroviral treatment.

More South Africans continue to take their HIV tests since the launch of the campaign in 2011 which is another accolade in our health care services.

I committed our Government during the State of the Nation Address this year that the target for this administration is to ensure that at least 4.6 million people are enrolled in the anti-retroviral programme.

I urge all of us to continue spreading the prevention message. The fact that this government provides treatment does not mean that people should stop behaving responsibly.

The ABC message remains in force:

Abstain, Be Faithful or Use a Condom.

Ladies and gentlemen,

One of the priority areas of the current administration is   economic growth and job creation.Â

I am pleased to note that the construction of this hospital not only offered health services, but provided an opportunity as well to create both direct and indirect jobs to the surrounding areas.Â

Many people in and around the area of Upington continue to benefit and economic growth and development shows positive trends.

However, we must intensify our efforts at improving on training on clinical staff.

The transfer of hospital services from the old Gordonia Hospital to the new Dr Harry Surtie Hospital has provided an opportune moment for training through expanding Nursing College facilities.

In addition to the Henrietta Stockdale Nursing College in Kimberley, I am pleased to announce that there will be satellite colleges in Upington, De Aar and Kuruman.

To add, the new Upington Nursing College will be located at the old Gordonia Hospital site.

There will be improved access to training for our nurses and ensuring that training takes place within the province.

This double-edged approach will reduce the burden of costs of training, and will also help train more people locally as opposed to faraway places.

Furthermore, this drive will put young people at the centre of Government priority.

The training and recruitment of emergency medical service personnel is another crucial area in our vision for a healthy South Africa.

The new site has been identified for the College of Emergency Care where the first group of prefabricated buildings will be erected.

We anticipate that the College of Emergency Care will again be up and running from later this year.

Over the recent years the old Gordonia Hospital had been offering a combination of district services with limited regional hospital services.

Through the Health Departments’ Service Transformation Plan (STP) Government is committed to the reconfiguration of services to ensure a larger proportion of the population have appropriate access to district, regional and tertiary hospital services.

The expansion of regional services in the new Dr Harry Surtie Hospital will reduce referrals to Kimberley and improve local access to more specialist services.

The former TB ward and Boiler House at the old Gordonia Hospital is in the process of being converted into a Rescue Training Centre and will focus on high building and cliff, mine and water rescue training.


Our successes continue to exist side by side with challenges.

Alcohol abuse especially on women is a major concern in this part of our country.

Numerous reports have documented how alcohol abuse is intertwined with other difficulties such as HIV and AIDS, poverty and domestic violence.

Sadly the levels of Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder are among the highest in the world, especially in this province as well as in the Western Cape.

Estimates point that about five million South Africans are affected by this disease.

More than two million of these have the more severe form known as Foetal Alcohol Syndrome. Pregnant women who drink alcohol endanger the health of their babies.

We need to continue engaging on awareness and prevention programmes in order to turn the tide against it.


Improving infrastructure across the province is in line with the broader vision of improving the lives of our people.

The renovation of Community Health Centres in Sutherland, Fraserburg and Galeshewe will be completed this year.

In Namakwa, construction of staff accommodation in Williston will also be completed this year, and construction of the Community Health Centre will start next year.

Apart from that, the Department has procured 10 obstetric ambulances for the province, with a further five on order.

More still need to be done towards Universal Coverage and National Health Insurance (NHI).

At a broader level, we will enter a new phase in the implementation of the National Health Insurance programme which will extend quality healthcare to the poor.

Implementation of the NHI will further strengthen public health care, also ensuring adequate provision of funding.

Our Government has identified the Pixley ka Seme District in this province to be one of the areas to pilot the NHI.

The NHI is to be phased-in over a period of 14 years with the purpose of the pilot in the district being to test innovations in health service provision, undertake health systems strengthening, and assess the effectiveness of interventions.

Ladies and gentlemen

We started this journey together 20 years ago.

For our Government to succeed, a renewed spirit in health care services provision needs to be reborn.

The lives of our people are in your hands.  The success of this state-of-the art equipment is in your hands too!

Hospital management must be astute, and enforce effective systems in place to deal with maintenance and servicing of the equipment.

We must keep our promise of improving the lives of the people especially the vulnerable in South Africa as Dr Harry Surtie, after whom the hospital is named, did.

True to the spirit of comradeship of the ANC, an organisation which I represent, Dr Surtie always put the interests of people first.

As a dentist, he gave assistance to people who could not afford  treatment. We dare not fail him!

Let us redouble our efforts to continue to build a successful and healthy nation as we continue to celebrate the 20 years of our democracy.

It is now my honour and privilege to declare the Dr Harry Surtie Hospital officially open!

I Thank you.

Issued by The Presidency
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