HEALTH Minister Aaron Motsoaledi's budget vote speech has been welcomed by the South African Medical Association, particularly his intention to look into the shortage of doctors in SA.

"This shows that he takes the training of medical doctors seriously," said spokesman Norman Mabasa.

On Wednesday, the minister said he was investigating ways to improve the standard of medical students' training.

The association was hoping Dr Motsoaledi would introduce measures to ensure trained doctors did not leave the system .

"We also call upon the minister to take control of the academic complexities in tertiary institutions, so that they don't fall under provincial administration. We also hope that the national Department of Health will have a role to play in the appointment of senior health officials in provinces," Mr Mabasa said.

Of significance to the organisation was the reversal of a merger between Medunsa and Turfloop that created the University of Limpopo. Last month, Dr Motsoaledi and Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande announced that the Medunsa campus would become a new, standalone health sciences training institution .

Dr Motsoaledi also spoke of the government's intention to intensify measures dealing with the HIV/AIDS pandemic. He undertook to eradicate backlogs in processing applications for new medicines to treat the disease.

Meanwhile, the South African Municipal Workers Union yesterday said the planned National Health Insurance system would work only if sustainable solutions were found for developing the country's health infrastructure.

"While Samwu sees the (insurance system) as the financial arm of a national health service, the primary focus should always be on the actual provision of health services," spokesman Tahir Sema said. "Without a national health infrastructure of medical facilities, including the appropriate level of health staff . the (insurance) might end up being no more than a life saver for the ailing private sector."