Government and the mining industry have announced a plan to build an academic hospital in the Rustenburg Platinum belt. The North West Department of Health held a consultative session with stakeholders in Phokeng, near Rustenburg, on Friday.

The hospital will cater for both patients and nursing students.

Thousands of job seekers flock to Rustenburg, with hope of getting employment in the platinum mines. Most end up living in informal settlements, where there are no services.

Due to the rising population in the mining areas and a shortages of resources, health institutions in the province are reportedly struggling to treat all patients. And as a result, most are transferred to neighbouring Gauteng.

Dr Lucas Mokgethi of the Rustenburg Health Forum says it is only through partnerships that better healthcare can be accessed by all.

“Whatever we are looking at and envisaging to attain in the future is to make sure that nobody gets turned back from any level of health care; and we think as the MEC stated, we want to establish the first NHI hospital in Rustenburg.”

Mineral Resources minister, Gwede Mantashe shares the sentiment. “NHI is a basic framework for the provision of health, universal access to quality health and I think if we can continue working together we can achieve the objective.”

Leaders in the mining industry and local health authorities have committed to work hand-in-hand to divert referrals from the platinum belt to Gauteng. The North West hopes the envisaged hospital will assist in that regard.

“We are mobilising all other mines that with effect from next year, all our health funding by mining companies and Department of Health must focus on this creation of a tertiary hospital. If we do that, we are going to lessen the burden to Gauteng, of the region, referring to Gauteng from some other facilities,” says North West Health Madoda Sambatha.  Authors- Sentleeng Lehihi and Rejoice Moses