NHI gets extra R4.2 billion

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The National Health Insurance (NHI) has been allocated an additional R4.2 billion which will be funded through an amendment to the medical tax credit, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Wednesday.

“Over the medium term, the NHI is allocated an additional R4.2 billion, funded through an amendment to the medical expenses tax subsidy. Overall, government will be spending R205 billion on health in 2018/19 growing to R240 billion by 2020/21,” said the Minister.

Minister Gigaba tabled his maiden national Budget in Parliament on Wednesday.

The implementation of the NHI is a policy priority that will result in additional allocations of R700 million, R1.4 billion and R2.1 billion over the next three years.

The personal services component of the national health insurance grant includes an initial set of priority services, such as contracting with general practitioners, widening referrals for school optometry and audiology services, and community mental health.

The non-personal services component of the NHI is allocated R2.3 billion over the medium term. The 2018 Budget Review said this amount will expand the Chronic Disease Medicine Distribution Programme to enable 3 million patients to collect chronic medicines at their collection point of choice instead of at a clinic.

Health budget

Meanwhile, government is working to increase the life expectancy of citizens to at least 70 years by 2030 through interventions such as the continued expansion of antiretroviral therapy and implementation of the NHI.

The health budget, which accounts for 13.9% of total spending, will grow at an average annual rate of 7.8 % over the medium term.

The 2018 Budget has allocated a total R205.4 billion to the health sector. Of this amount, R125.9 billion will be for tertiary hospital services and R66.4 billion will support HIV and AIDS prevention and treatment.

ARV programme

According to the Budget, R1 billion is added to the comprehensive HIV, AIDS and TB grant in 2020/21.

Changes to this grant also allow for standardising and monitoring the performance of the Community Health Worker Programme, which delivers home-based care to those suffering from HIV and AIDS or tuberculosis.

A total of R4.4 billion has been reprioritised within the grant over the next three years to support the programme.

Currently, government’s antiretroviral treatment programme reaches 3.9 million people and since September 2016, government has been implementing a universal test-and-treat policy, offering all HIV-positive patients antiretroviral treatment regardless of CD4 count.

In 2018/19, government will establish the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority be established as a public entity. The authority will be responsible for regulating the registration, licensing, manufacturing and importing of active pharmaceutical ingredients, medicines and medical devices.

It will also regulate clinical trials in line with national policy.

“The new authority will receive R396.9 million in transfers, and will generate revenue by collecting fees from the pharmaceutical and health products industry,” said the Review.

Over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period, the health facility revitalisation grant and indirect health facility revitalisation grant, which fund infrastructure programmes, have been cut by a total of R820 million. These reductions will be absorbed through reprioritisation and delaying infrastructure projects.

Sugar tax awareness campaign

Government has allocated R368 million over the MTEF period to begin a public awareness campaign to complement the health promotion levy on sugary beverages and to establish a health technology assessment unit.

The unit will analyse the cost effectiveness of various health interventions.

Last year, the South African Revenue Service (SARS) announced that it would be collecting the levy.

Basic Education

Minister Gigaba said basic education remains  a key focus in the Budget.

Over the medium term, R3.8 billion has been allocated to the School Infrastructure Backlogs Grant to replace 82 inappropriate and unsafe schools, and provide water to 325 schools and sanitation to 286 schools.

The Education Infrastructure Grant is also allocated R31.7 billion over the medium term to build new schools, upgrade and maintain existing infrastructure, and provide school furniture.

Meals will be provided at 19 800 schools for about 9 million learners each school day through the National School Nutrition Programme Grant, which is allocated R21.7 billion over the medium term.

Additionally, 39 000 Funza Lushaka bursaries will also be disbursed via the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, at a cost of R 3.7 billion for prospective teachers in priority subject areas such as mathematics and science. – SAnews.gov.za

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