Expert warns of secrecy bill’s influence on healthcare

2011-09-22 11:17

The Protection of Information Bill would eliminate a major pillar of accountability, which would affect healthcare negatively, Alex van den Heever, a health economist from the University of the Witwatersrand’s School of Public and Development Management has said.

“If someone proposes a national central purchaser for healthcare and make virtually all decisions including tendering secret, it would be difficult to get to the bottom of issues,” Van den Heever told delegates yesterday at the Health Association of South Africa (Hasa) conference.

He highlighted the need to strengthen governance and accountability structures for health systems reform in South Africa to succeed.

He said there were a lot of failings in the public healthcare structures and that could greatly hinder any form of reform.

Referring to media reports about alleged tender corruption by politicians in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal, he said despite such reports and information being widely available in the public space, there was no prompt reaction by various law enforcement agencies and supervisory structures.

“The question is: What is wrong with our supervisory structures? All these things lead to poor health outcomes,” he said.

Van den Heever added that medical aid schemes were exposed to serious governance and conflict of interest issues because of a lack of an enforceable governance framework.

The conference follows the announcement by health minister Aaron Motsoaledi early this year that the government will be rolling out the national health insurance scheme to provide affordable health coverage to all South Africans.

» ANC chief whip Mathole Motshekga told a media briefing in Parliament yesterday the Protection of Information Bill had been withdrawn for “further consideration”, Sapa reported. 

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