R4.5 billion allocated to NHI

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Cape Town – Government has allocated R4.5 billion for the National Health Insurance (NHI) over the next three years.

This is according to National Treasury’s Budget Review document, which was released when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan tabled the 2016 Budget Speech on Wednesday.

“National Health Insurance, which is being implemented at 390 sites, is allocated R4.5 billion over the medium term. The information system used at these sites to manage patient records will be improved, with an additional R276 million for this purpose allocated over the medium term to the information systems component of the National Health Insurance Indirect Grant,” National Treasury said.

In his Budget Speech, the Finance Minister said health financing is complex because the demands unavoidably exceed available funds.

“This is the case even in advanced rich countries. Retirement and social security reform is complex because existing arrangements create long-term obligations, and the needs of today all too easily crowd out provision for tomorrow,” he said.

With rising medical costs, the Minister said challenges relating to funding of health must be confronted.

In December last year, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi published the White Paper on the National Health Insurance.

At the time, Minister Motsoaledi emphasised that public health service delivery improvements must be prioritised, and reform of the private health and medical scheme environment was needed.

Minister Gordhan said: “In order to take the White Paper’s proposals forward, Treasury will shortly release further details on financing aspects.”

Treasury said that the health facility revitalisation grant – which has been underspending in recent years – has been reduced by R365 million over the medium term to support reprioritisation.

Treasury also said that the reduction, which represents 2.1% of the grant, is not expected to adversely affect service delivery.

Meanwhile, Treasury has announced that government will spend R15.9 billion on HIV/ Aids treatment and prevention campaigns.

The National Development Plan envisions a South Africa where life expectancy is at least 70 years, under 20s are largely HIV-free and the burden of disease is reduced.

Treasury said the health budget will be R168.4 billion in 2016/17. R31.9 billion will be for primary healthcare services and R88.2 billion for hospitals.

Over the next three years, the department will spend:

-        R984 million to expand coverage of HIV/Aids treatment and prevention initiatives, including supply of antiretrovirals. The goal is to ensure that by 2020, 90% of all people living with HIV know their status, are receiving treatment and have undetectable viral loads;

-        R740 million for the treatment of tuberculosis, including enhanced screening and earlier detection and diagnosis; and

-        R300 million to develop a national electronic medicine stock management system. – SAnews.gov.za