Dr and Mrs Salojee;
Mr Kalla Haroon Rasheed Aboo;
Friends and comrades;
Ladies and gentlemen:
I would like to start by thanking you for considering me worthy enough to address the launch of the Dr R.A.M and Sara Salojee Foundation, an initiative meant to contribute towards the socio-economic development of targeted communities in education and health sectors of our country.
Most importantly, I must also thank Awqaf South Africa for this visionary initiative.
As you know, social justice remains an exacting issue which, if not addressed, will always be a scar on our national conscience.
It is thus encouraging to see bold steps being taken by a role player of Awqaf SA’s stature to fight for social justice in our socio-economic sphere.
Dr Salojee’s life history in the field of medical profession is nothing short of inspirational.
From his education in England and later professional contribution to the medical profession in the self-same nation and later South Africa, he has over the years stood out as an exemplar of achievement.
He is one of the many South Africans who have held high our flag through remarkable achievement, putting our nation on the map.
His extraordinary achievements also remind us of the importance of hard work, commitment and focus on key objectives, qualities that we in South Africa must, necessarily, embrace with vigour to advance to our vision of a better future.
I am therefore thankful that after gaining these valuable experiences Dr and Mrs Sara Salojee are now reinvesting back into our communities.
I am sure that in due course many other social actors will follow suit, not only encouraging individual excellence but also putting knowledge and skills of their members at the service of our people.
Accordingly, government has over the years been calling on South Africans in many different fields of endeavours to lend a hand in addressing some of our pressing challenges as we continue with efforts to build a prosperous nation.
We made this call fully aware that our efforts to construct a united, non-racial, non-sexist, just and democratic society need to be underwritten by increasing improvement in the socio-economic conditions of our people.
Along with others of similar intent initiatives like this are likely to touch off a critical mass whose aggregate impact will help quicken the pace towards the type of society we are all envisaging.
Clearly, after 16 years of democracy, South Africa is still beset with serious challenges.
As we have said above, chief among these challenges are areas of health and education, both of which are part of the socio-economic index indicative of the quality of a people’s life.
In consequence, most of the pivotal work that needs partnership between government and many other stakeholders reside in health and education, among others.
As government Programme of Action shows, these two challenges constitute critical areas that must be comprehensively addressed as a pre-condition to put our country on a reconstruction trajectory.
You will be aware that during his State of the Nation address the president of our Republic, Jacob Zuma, did indicate that education and health are among government’s five priority areas.
The other three include rural development, job creation and the fight against crime and corruption.
Without good education and skills development no country can compete, let alone cope with the unrelenting global economic imperatives that must be met to unlock national growth and development.
We have to ensure that training and skills development initiatives in the country respond to the requirements of the economy.
In the light of this government has set out to strengthen the skills and human resource base of our country.
Education is therefore government’s key priority for the next five years.
In this regard, government is striving for teachers, learners and parents and other education role players to work with it to turn our schools into thriving centers of excellence.
In addition government is stepping up the Early Childhood Development programme with the aim of ensuring universal access to children falling within the appropriate age bracket in 2014.
Part of our programme for the next five years is to improve the access to higher education of children from poor families and ensure a sustainable funding structure for universities and other tertiary educations.
In addition to these intensified efforts to remedy our education conditions, government is equally seized with the task of addressing our health system in all its contours.
For a long time the progressive deterioration of the quality of health care in our country has been a constant source of concern to us.
Once again we set ourselves to the tasks of ameliorating conditions of our people in this very indispensable area.
These include the following:
· further reducing inequalities in health care provision;
· boosting human resource capacity,
· revitalising hospitals and clinics and stepping up the fight against the scourge of HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis (TB) and other diseases.
At the moment government is wrestling with the important task of setting up an effective primary health care system.
This includes rehabilitating public hospitals and clinics to turn them into viable public entities responsive to the basic health needs of all South Africans, especially the poor.
At the end we would like to see well-staffed, well-managed and efficient public health institutions in place so that the poor are guaranteed good treatment without fail.
Interestingly, a well run primary health care system also plays the role of prevention in that it takes the initiative to inform people of requisite hygienic conditions to maintain healthy lifestyle, which eases the burden of treatment in the first place.
Once this objective has been achieved, plans to introduce a National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme in a phased and incremental manner will be implemented.
In this regard, extensive research into the feasibility and potential benefits of the NHI has been carried out by competent health professionals, and the findings convince us of the need to proceed with this initiative, once conducive conditions have been created.
In other words, an effective, efficient and sustainable primary health care system will underwrite the viability of the NHI.
We are confident that, working together, as this very initiative today shows, we cannot but win this titanic battle eventually.
On this I am also optimistic that professionals in the health sector will come on board, as already shown by the Awqaf South Africa initiative.
This goal of promoting quality health care is also in line with the United Nations Millennium Development Goals to halve poverty by 2014.
Equally importantly, government is galvanizing the whole nation to work together to improve the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan for the Treatment, Management and Care of HIV and AIDS.
With this approach our main aim is the reduction of the rate of new HIV infections by 50% by the year 2011 as well as reaching 80% of those in need of ARV treatment also by 2011.
Ladies and gentlemen,
The above are all challenges that make up the landscape of the future we are trying to create in the two areas of education and health, which, therefore, makes the role of the Dr R.A.M and Sara Salojee Foundation that much more consequential.
The establishment of this foundation infuses new levels of confidence into the bloodstream of our nation.
It reassures all of us that South Africans from all walks of life, and importantly, South Africans with the requisite skills, cannot wait to see our nation succeed.
I am therefore convinced that when history comes to record actors who have consciously impacted on the shape and form of the newly evolved South Africa, the Dr R.A.M and Sara Salojee Foundation will have automatic qualification.
I would therefore, once again, like to commend the Awqaf SA for this visionary initiative.
I thank you