The Department of Health has already enrolled more than 42 million South Africans in the Health Patient Registration System.
Presenting his departmental budget on Friday, minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize said that this system was developed for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) and will act as a ‘backbone of an electronic health patient record’.
“We have already registered 42.6 million users on the system and all South Africans will be registered by the end of this financial year,” he said.
“We support the Department of Home Affairs in the registration of babies in our hospitals, as they will then be registered automatically on the NHI patient register.
“NHI will require a digital health platform that will support the operations of the NHI Fund and work has already commenced in this regard,” said Mkhize.
He added that the department has identified over 30 managers at various levels of the health system, who will receive training within the next four weeks – supported by international development partners.
These managers will learn about how NHI is implemented from different parts of the world to ensure sustainability of implementation.
While Mkhize reiterated that an updated NHI bill had been approved by the cabinet, there was little information on how South Africa’s universal healthcare would be funded or when the bill would be tabled in parliament.
Mkhize said that while there have been some concerns about the readiness of our system to implement the NHI, his department would address issues as and when they appeared.
“I believe that too much discussion, analysis and diagnosis has been done and it is time for us to jump into implementation,” he said.
“If we continue analysing the problem we will never end up tackling the problems.”
Presenting the outcome of the cabinet meeting on Thursday (11 July), minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu said that the bill will be rolled out in phases once it has been passed.
“In 2018, cabinet approved that the bill be released for public consultation over a three-month period, from June to September 2018,” Mthembu said.
“The inputs received from this process have been incorporated into this latest version, which will be subjected to another rigorous parliamentary process.”
Mthembu said that the NHI will provide for universal quality healthcare services to all South Africans, irrespective of their socio-economic background.
He added that the new system will be based on values of justice, fairness and social solidarity.
“Once the Bill has been passed, the existing draft implementation plan will be amended accordingly to give effect to the transitional arrangement of rolling out the NHI in phases,” he said.
“The transition period will also allow for the repeal of certain pieces of legislation to enable alignment and coherence.”