A step closer to the NHI

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi says the release of two bills - the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill - on Thursday is poised to make history.

The bills will pave the way for more access to medical healthcare through the NHI.

The Minister was speaking at the policy debate on the Health Budget Vote in the National Council of Provinces on Tuesday.

“On Thursday, I will be releasing two bills to the nation in a press conference - the Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and the NHI Bill.

“This question of universal health coverage, which we call NHI, is not going to leave the world unshaken. This is what we are going to be announcing on Thursday.”

The Minister’s announcement follows Cabinet’s approval of the two medical bills two weeks ago.  

Motsoaledi cited the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet, which dedicated one of its editorials to universal health coverage, saying it will be “the third transition of health ever since human beings started populating this planet”.

Universal health coverage was adopted by the United Nations as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Referring to the NHI as the “land question of health”, Motsoaledi said the debates on the NHI will rage not only in the field of health but in the economic and social lives of the people.

“Yes, under NHI, the rich will subsidise the poor. The young will subsidise the old. The healthy will subsidise the sick. The urban will subsidise the rural.

“For this reason, we are contending that this will be a substantial policy shift. It will necessitate a massive reorganisation of the whole healthcare system, both public and private, and completely change the relationship between our spheres of government,” said the Minister.

According to Motsoaledi, laws will have to receive an overhaul to ensure the success of the NHI.

“We are going to be asking you to change most of the laws that you have painstakingly cobbled together since the advent of democracy.

“You might have had to dismantle some of the relationships between spheres of government and also rattle the corporate world in health.

“That is what we will mean by a massive reorganisation of the health system,” he said.

Amendments to acts to prevent disasters

According to Motsoaledi, disasters in the health sector such as Life Esidimeni, oncology in KwaZulu-Natal and Mediosa, stem from issues such as human resources, financial management, supply chain management and infrastructure maintenance.

“All the major disasters in health that occurred in our country are about these four and the way they are governed and controlled. We have already identified 12 Acts that will have to be amended by this House to accommodate NHI,” said the Minister. 

The Minister said implementing NHI projects using the R4.1 billion allocated by the Finance Minister for cancer, school and mental health will be the next step for his department. – SAnews.gov.za