At independence Bophuthatswana inherited 116 clinics – most of which were old and poorly designed. Of the nine hospitals in existence, eight were formerly mission hospitals. The only state hospital was a psychiatric facility.
A decade later 26 clinics were replaced and an additional 30 had been built in new localities. Five of these were polyclinics with the doctors living on-site. They were built in areas far from existing hospitals, bringing health services as close as possible to where people lived and worked.
In total ten hospitals and five polyclinics served an entire district and supervised all clinics within their areas.
The Victoria Hospital in Mafikeng became one of the first public hospitals in southern African to be privatised.
Supplementing these facilities were 209 stations which mobile teams visited according to a fixed schedule. In this way over half the villages with a population of 500 or more received some form of primary health care.
Another milestone for the Bophuthatswana government was the establishment of the Bophuthatswana National Drug Information Centre. The facility subscribed to the Iowa Drug Information Service in the United States of America and was one of the very few in southern Africa.
In keeping abreast with international trends the training of nurses was expanded and diversified, and to ensure a high standard of instruction, the Nursing College was affiliated to the University of the Witwatersrand through the then University of Bophuthatswana.
Government also established special training programmes designed to serve primary health care services:
- A one-year curriculum Primary Health Care Nursing programme with both classroom and practical aspects designed for experienced and registered nurses and/or midwives; and
- The Community Health Nursing Assistant course which trained community health workers who were recruited from rural villages and returned to work among the people under supervision of a clinic sister.
The nursing sector also took the lead in involving the community in health matters by establishing and fostering clinic committees, care groups and maternity helpers. Voluntary community members participated in all phases of health care in their communities by planning, delivering and evaluating the service.