Minister assures public of NHI's objective

Monday, September 21, 2009

Johannesburg - Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has assured the public that the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) should not be perceived as a "monster".

"There is no need for people to think of the NHI as a monster. The NHI will enable all South Africans to access quality and comprehensive health services, which will be free at the point of service," said the minister on Saturday.

He said improving the quality of healthcare services was on government's ten-point programme to improve the lives of South Africans.

The NHI will address the lack of cleanliness of hospitals, which is a major concern for the minister. "A dirty hospital is a killing centre. We are going to look at this."

He said the overhaul of the healthcare system was necessary so as to deliver better healthcare for the country.

He had noted there was a need for hospitals to be better managed following a recent visit to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto and he would also investigate the low number of new doctors entering the medical field.

South African tertiary institutions are currently producing 1200 doctors annually, despite the country grappling to deal with challenges such as HIV and AIDS.

Qedani Mahlangu, MEC for Health in Gauteng, said that government needed to address to problem of doctors leaving the private healthcare system in favour of the private sector as well as those who opted to work overseas.

"We need to prevent them from leaving," said Mahlangu, who admitted that hardworking doctors were working under tough conditions