'Brutal' private healthcare attacked again

2011-11-02 22:25

Cape Town - A month after Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi called the private health care system a "monster", his deputy re-applied the label.

"The system is monstrous and brutal," Deputy Health Minister Gwen Ramokgopa said in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

In October, Motsoaledi controversially described private healthcare in South Africa as a "brutal system", and a monster "that will swallow us whole".

Ramokgopa, responding to a question in the House about the remarks, told MPs there was a need to deal with the "uncontrolled, unregulated commercialisation of health care" in the country.

This undermined the principle of health care as a public good.

She offered examples of the private sector charging exorbitant amounts for treatment, saying such "high and unjustifiable" charges had thrown even financially stable families into poverty.

"Recent high and unjustifiable costs brought to the attention of the ministry include R18 000 [charged] for a D&C [dilation and curettage]... and R30 000 for a peri-anal abscess, which is a... relatively minor operation. And R67 000 for an evaluation of someone who had a car accident and who walked into a hospital.

"[Further, an amount of] R500 000 for a laparotomy for a peritoneal abscess, in addition to separate surgeon's fees of R27 000 and an anaesthetic fee of R3 000. And another R700 000, for the same patient, for a repeat of the same operation."

Ramokgopa said Motsoaledi had no problem "relating" to the private sector, and his department would need its expertise as the country moved towards establishing a national health care system.

"The minister has no problem relating to the private sector, he relates well to it, he consults it... but I think [such] incidents are inhumane."

She said Motsoaledi, in his choice of words, had been "objectively assessing the state of the private healthcare system as it is and how South Africans currently see it".

- SAPA

Read more on:    aaron motsoaledi  |  gwen ramokgopa  |  health
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