Health conference under way

2011-09-21 14:00

Health industry experts have gathered at the Cape Town International Conference Centre to chart a way forward following the debate around healthcare in South Africa and the highly anticipated national health insurance (NHI) scheme next year.

The conference, organised by the Hospital Association of South Africa (Hasa), pits local and international great minds in the healthcare industry to deliberate on issues affecting the country’s health system.

Among the speakers are Nkaki Matlala, the chairperson of Hasa; Briton Mark Britnell, the chairperson of auditing firm KPMG’s global healthcare division; Heather Macleod, a healthcare financing consultant from New Zealand; among others.

Hasa is an industry association representing more than 90% of the private hospital industry in South Africa, and a key role-player in South Africa’s healthcare environment.

Matlala, giving an opening address at the conference, said Hasa recognised government stewardship in reforming the healthcare system in South Africa.

“One doesn’t have to go far to understand why transformation is necessary in our country,” Matlala said. “We would be irresponsible if we were to sit on the periphery when there’s a debate about healthcare in our country.”

He said that Hasa will not point fingers at anyone but contribute in seeking solutions for the country.

Matlala said everyone (public and private healthcare providers) needed to join hands to reach the desired outcome as no sector can achieve that on its own.

Britnell, who helped former British prime minister Tony Blair write that country’s national health system (NHS) plan, emphasised that a practical system helped patients more than ideology.

He added that South Africa’s NHI green paper had the potential to produce quality healthcare but required all sides in the healthcare sector to change their mindsets to create a better health service.

He added that when the NHS was introduced in Britain, things were difficult but they overcame the challenges. “It was difficult (implementing the NHS) to start but once we began, there was tremendous progress,” Britnell said.

He added that their system saw a tremendous increase in patient satisfaction once implemented.

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

The scheme, expected to be piloted next year, will cost R128 billion in its first year, increasing to R376 billion by 2025.

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