South Africa has a new health ombudsman, with Health Minister Joe Phaahla appointing Professor Taole Mokoena for the position.
The minister made the announcement during a media briefing in Pretoria on Friday.
“His appointment is effective from 1 June. Professor Mokoena is one of our outstanding South African medical scholars who has transcended the globe to ensure the quality of South African academic prowess,” Phaahla said.
Mokoena is a retired medical doctor and former head of surgery at the University of Pretoria and the Steve Biko Academic Hospital.
He also served on a number of a health bodies, including the South African Medical Association and the Health Professions Council of South Africa.
Mokoena succeeds Malegapuru Makgoba, whose seven-year non-renewable term came to an end on 31 May.
He thanked Health Minister Joe Phaahla for appointing him.
“I know I was reluctant but because you’re the boss and when the boss asks, even if you hesitate, then you ask: ‘how high should I jump’.”
South Africa’s ailing public health system has over the years been thrust into the spotlight due to negligence and ineptitude.
During his tenure, Makgoba’s office investigated over 10,000 complaints.
Among them is the Life Esidimeni saga, dubbed the “Gauteng marathon”, where some 144 mentally ill patients were moved from the private facility to various ill-equipped non-governmental organisations.
Makgoba said the horror left him shocked.
An inquiry has since been instituted to get to the bottom of the tragedy.
He also described the public health system as “dysfunctional” and “a mess”.
Phaahla went on to thank Makgoba for doing the work done during his tenure.