No miracles, minister warns of NHI

2012-03-24 15:19

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has warned that South Africans should not expect miracles when the National Health Insurance (NHI) pilot project is launched next week because it will have little impact on them.

This week, announcing the 11 districts earmarked for the pilot project, Motsoaledi said: “The first five years of the NHI will focus on establishing building blocks in preparation for the full roll-out.

“The only change people living in the selected districts will witness from next month will be the strengthening of the health systems through infrastructure revitalisation and improving service delivery by hiring clinical specialists,” according to Motsoaledi.

More than 80% of South Africa’s population relies on the public health system, and many people were expecting dramatic, immediate changes when the NHI pilot project launches on April 1.

Motsoaledi said the perception among some public healthcare patients was that they would immediately be able to visit private doctors without paying upfront.

This is one of the guarantees laid out in the NHI green paper, which was released last year – but it refers to a system that will only be put in place in a few years’ time.

The NHI is a government scheme which aims to ensure that everyone living in South Africa has access to quality healthcare, irrespective of race or socio-economic status.

The scheme is supposed to be phased in over 14 years and is designed to work more like a medical aid in future.

Eventually, patients will be able to visit private doctors and hospitals without paying upfront. The doctors will then claim from the NHI fund.

Motsoaledi said the service agreement with the private sector was still part of the plan.

“It’s just that it may take time. I cannot say it will happen now, or in May, but it will happen if doctors are willing,” Motsoaledi said.

He said he was planning to visit the selected districts this week and would speak to private doctors practising in these areas.

The 11 districts are:
» OR Tambo (Eastern Cape)

» Gert Sibande (Mpumalanga)

» Vhembe (Limpopo)

» Pixley ka Seme (Northern Cape)

Eden (Western Cape)

» Dr K Kaunda (North West)

» Thabo Mofutsanyane (Free State)

» Tshwane (Gauteng)

» uMzinyathi, Amajuba and uMgungundlovu (KwaZulu-Natal)

Motsoaledi said: “I am going to ask the doctors to assist clinics by working at least three to four hours a day (in the clinics).”

The delay in contracting private doctors is not the only aspect of the first phase of the NHI that has hit a snag.

District clinical specialist teams consisting of gynaecologists and paediatricians should have been appointed in December.

Failing this, the minister was supposed to reach an agreement with medical universities to send professors to districts on a rotational basis until the permanent positions were filled. However, this has not happened yet.

The DA’s Patricia Kopane, who speaks for the party on health issues, said she was concerned that a number of process listed in the green paper had not been completed.

But she said: “The DA welcomes the rolling out of the pilot project as it is an essential step that will test if the public health system can function properly.”

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.