Western Cape Premier Helen Zille has called on members of the public to avoid preventable diseases which she says are caused by  unhealthy lifestyles.

Zille was speaking at the Grootte Schuur Hospital in Cape Town during the 80th birthday celebrations of the health facility. A morning music concert marked the start of the year long celebrations.

Groote Schuur is world famous for its first successful heart transplant that was performed by Professor Chris Barnard in 1967.

Since then, more than five hundred heart transplants have been performed. Speaking at the event, Zille says people who refuse to take good care of themselves are forcing hospitals to divert funds intended for the needy and puts a burden on the health budget. She says the province is spending most of its budget on education and health. Zille says her government will again prioritise the health budget this financial year.

Groote Schuur, which caters for most of poor Cape Town areas, is under resourced and largely depends on donations.

Zille says a change of behaviour from the public could save the health department billions of rands

“If we just got people to look after their health and to prevent preventable conditions we will save billions of the health budget. We have tried a lot to change the behaviour of South Africans to look after themselves in their own interests not to drink and drive, not to have unsafe sex and we are not succeeding very well,” she said.