The Director General of the National Department of Health Ms Precious Matsoso bid farewell to the position she occupied since 2010 to pursue her PhD studies.
The respected Ms Matsoso joined the Department in May 2010 as the Director-General, having previously served in the World Health Organisation (WHO) as director of public health innovation and intellectual property from 2004-2010. During her tenure, the Department received successive unqualified audits from 2011/12 to 2018/19.
Under the slogan of “A long and healthy life for all South Africans”, she worked tirelessly to improve the health system which came to bear with the recently released Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) figures showing an improvement of life expectancy rates over the past sixteen years. Women increased from 57.7 to 67.3 years between 2002 and 2018, and men improved from 53.8 years to 61.1 years. The NDP 2030 targets for a life expectancy rate of at least 70 years for men and women. These improvements have largely been attributed to the improved coverage and effectiveness of the government ART programme implemented in 2004 and escalated from 2009 onwards.
Ms Matsoso was instrumental in a series of pro-poor health policies that allowed for free healthcare at the primary healthcare facilities and hospitals for the indigent. Access to healthcare services was increased, starting with pregnant women, mothers, and children – later expanded to cover every unemployed and indigent person.
She had a passion for the improvement of the health of ordinary people and took a keen interest in medicine. Her commitment to universal health culminated in her appointment as a member of the UN High Level Panel on Access to medicines.
Under Ms Matsoso’s leadership, South Africa enjoyed the continent’s top ranking, 34th position globally, in terms of effective and sustainable systems to respond to outbreaks.
Ms Matsoso thanked her executive management team, the staff of the National Department of Health for the support they gave her during her tenure. She also extended her thanks to all health workers who are at the coalface of rendering services for their resilience amid daily challenges. “I salute all the health workers and urge them to be unwavering in implementing the universal health coverage through NHI”.
Dr Anban Pillay was appointed acting Director-General of the National Department of Health from 1 November 2019.