Pretoria - The North West Health Department has allocated an amount of R11.5 million to be spent on a special conditional grant to fund the National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot in Dr Kenneth Kaunda District.
Presenting his department's R6.9-billion budget in the provincial legislature in Mmabatho on Tuesday, Health MEC Dr Magome Masike said the pilot would help the department finalise how the service benefits would be designed, how the population would be covered and how the services would be delivered under NHI.
He noted that over the years, they faced serious challenges caused mainly by a skewed healthcare financing system, which resulted in an increased burden of disease as the majority of the population and those suffering the greatest ill-health could not access good quality healthcare.
"With the introduction of the NHI, there will be provision of a package of services that will extend to prevention of diseases and promotion of good health, compliance with quality standards, acceptance of capitation as a method of payment instead of a fee for service and appropriate pricing mechanisms," Masike said.
In order to obtain maximum quality under NHI, Masike emphasised the need to radically improve the quality of services rendered in provincial public health facilities.
"This means massive investment in improvement of health infrastructure ... In every single health institution, certain basic core standards must be complied with."
He also announced that the PERSAL system was being cleaned so that only critical posts remain. Currently, the department has 3 394 vacant posts.
However, Masike said while the intention was to fill the posts during the current financial year, this objective would not be achieved based on personnel expenditure patterns, adding that new policy interventions such as the Occupational Specific Payment (OSD) had far reaching implications on the personnel budget of the department.
"We have begun the processes of reprioritisation of posts per district with a view to attain equitable budget allocation. In certain instances, there will be a delay in the filling of posts due to scarce skills; therefore the department is now considering prioritisation of bursary allocation to address scarce skills."
In increasing the human resource capacity, Masike said the department would continue to improve the training of nursing, the provision of emergency medical rescue services and strengthening public healthcare towards a well-functioning NHI.
The department will this year send 50 more students to study medicine in Cuba, a significant increase from the 12 that were sent last year.