Minister of Health Dr Joe Phaahla announced on Friday the appointment of Professor Taole Mokoena as the new Health Ombud of South Africa as of June 1.
Mokoena is a graduate of the Universities of KwaZulu-Natal and Oxford and served as the Chief Surgeon at the Department of General Surgery at the University of Pretoria and at Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
He previously chaired a panel investigating surgical deaths and discrimination within the cardiology department at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital.
The Health Ombud is an independent body established in terms of the National Health Amendment Act of 2013, with a responsibility to protect and promote the health and safety of users of health services by considering, investigating and disposing of complaints in the national health system relating to noncompliance with prescribed norms and standards.
Mokoena accepted the magnitude of his role in assisting the Department of Health to deliver a healthcare system that timeously responded to the demand of a growing population.
Phaahla expressed gratitude to the outgoing Professor Malegapuru Makgoba for his efforts as the inaugural Health Ombud.
“Professor Makgoba displayed patriotism and commitment to the creation of an improvement of the health services in our country, by impartially and with no favour or prejudice investigating complaints brought to his office and also made recommendations which are invaluable to the health system and the country as a whole,” Phaahla said.
Considering the Life Esidimeni tragedy, the alleged Covid-19 fraud within the Tembisa Hospital and the dilapidated conditions at the Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital, the Minister has heeded the criticisms Makgoba levelled at the Department regarding issues of staff capacity and resource allocation.
Alluding to a high turnover of MECs, Phaahla highlighted the importance of ensuring stability at an institutional level towards ensuring that people in South Africa receive quality healthcare.
“Strengthening management capacity at the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC) does help the Ombud administratively and does offer a full secondment of staff. At the moment, there is a core staff complement with an executive manager that works with the Ombud on a day-to-day basis. However, the caseload outweighs the staff complement,” said OHSC CEO Dr Siphiwe Mndaweni.