Health minister Dr Zwelini Mkhize says that he understands the apprehension around the new National Health Insurance (NHI), but has reassured stakeholders that the system will be run with the same efficiency and integrity as other public entities.
Mkhize said in a statement this week, that the NHI Bill proposes a funding mechanism that will achieve Universal Health Coverage as a section 3(A) public entity.
“South Africa has over 150 Section 3(A) national public entities and hundreds more in the provincial sphere that are run efficiently and with integrity,” he said.
“The powers, privileges and consequence management set out in typical section 3A entities are no different to what is being proposed in the NHI Bill. There is a high index of confidence in section 3A entities as they have set a precedent of good governance and accountability.”
Mkhize added that his department has already implemented, and is seeing results from a number of new initiatives in preparation of the new bill. These include:
- The Public Health Infrastructure Refurbishment Programme and The Health Sector Anti-Corruption Forum, which has detected and prosecuted in instances of fraud and corruption within the private and public sectors;
- The department’s human resource capital has been boosted by various strategies such as the increase in numbers of doctors trained, (leading to the largest number of interns being placed in 2020 to date);
- The Presidential Stimulus Package has allowed for the funding of more posts and the protection and retention of departmental savings to be redirected towards Human Resources for Health.
“Medical Practitioners, along with all stakeholders, will continue to be engaged through consultation processes held by parliament through which any concerns and suggestions about the NHI Bill can be raised,” he said.
“We urge interest groups to appreciate the limitations of surveys, especially where there is a response bias, and not generalise the findings of such results in a unscientific manner.”
“We understand these sentiments are guided by the fear of the unknown; however we reassure doctors and other medical practitioners like nurses and pharmacists, who form the backbone of service delivery under the NHI, that the law will be passed as reflected by the will of the people through a democratic process.”