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New Health Ombud

The Ministry of Health, under the leadership of Dr Joe Phaahla, is pleased to announce the appointment of Emeritus Professor Taole Resetselemang Mokoena as the new Health Ombud, effective from the 1st of June 2023.

The Health Ombud is an independent entity established in accordance with the provisions outlined in the National Health Amendment Act of 2013. Its primary responsibility is to safeguard and advance the health and safety of health service users. This is achieved through the diligent examination, investigation, and resolution of complaints within the national health system, specifically relating to non-compliance with prescribed norms and standards.

The Health Ombud operates within the framework of the Office of Health Standards Compliance (OHSC), a schedule 3A public entity regulated by the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The OHSC’s core mandate encompasses various responsibilities, one of which is to oversee the implementation of recommendations put forth by the Health Ombud.

Professor Mokoena is a globally recognised medical scholar. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Natal and holds a D.Phil from the University of Oxford. Additionally, he is a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. Recently, Professor Mokoena retired from his position as a Professor and Academic Head of the Department of Surgery, as well as Chief Surgeon of the Department of General Surgery at the University of Pretoria and Steve Biko Academic Hospital. However, he continues to contribute to medical education and research on a part-time basis, providing guidance and supervision to both undergraduate and postgraduate medical students.

Professor Mokoena’s clinical and research interests span immunology, oncology, and endocrinology. He has previously been involved in the renal transplant units at the Universities of Natal and Witwatersrand. His dedication to academic and professional leadership is evident through his past service on various national and professional bodies, including the South African Medical Association, the Health Professions Council of South Africa, and the Colleges of Medicine of South Africa and the College of Surgeons of South Africa.

Minister of Health, Dr Joe Phaahla, also extends gratitude to the outgoing Health Ombud, Professor Malegapuru W. Makgoba, as his term concluded on May 31, 2023. Professor Makgoba was appointed as Health Ombud on June 1, 2016, by former Health Minister, now Minister of Home Affairs, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. Professor Makgoba’s term was non-renewable and lasted for a period of seven years.

Throughout his tenure, Professor Makgoba exhibited unwavering patriotism and commitment to enhancing the healthcare system in the country. He approached his role with impartiality, diligently investigating complaints brought before his office and providing invaluable recommendations to strengthen the health system. His extensive experience in clinical care, knowledge of public service, and understanding of the fundamental requirements for an improved and sustainable healthcare system were indispensable assets to his office.

Establishing the Health Ombud Office was an arduous task, and Professor Makgoba’s appointment as the first South African Health Ombud allowed the country to draw upon the positive examples and practices observed in other nations. This endeavour aimed to ensure that our citizens receive enhanced quality healthcare within a modernised health infrastructure.

Under Professor Makgoba’s leadership, several significant investigations were conducted, including the Life Esidimeni case involving mental health patients, the Tembisa Hospital inquiry, and the recent investigation at Rahima Moosa Mother & Child Hospital. These cases exemplified his commitment to assisting the government and the public in building a robust healthcare system. Professor Makgoba not only addressed high-profile complaints but also dedicated a substantial portion of his term to addressing the concerns of ordinary individuals seeking care in our healthcare facilities.

South Africa and its healthcare system are indebted to Professor Makgoba, and his departure signifies a loss to a system that still requires extensive reforms and substantial improvements. Nevertheless, we take solace in the fact that he has laid a solid foundation upon which his successor can continue the commendable work he has left behind.

The Ministry of Health and the Department express their hope that, as Professor Makgoba departs, he will maintain an ongoing relationship with the healthcare system. His guidance and counsel will be invaluable as we proceed with the necessary reforms to establish an affordable, accessible, and sustainable healthcare system.

Last Updated on 14 June 2023 by HPCSA Corporate Affairs