Private sector must help improve public healthcare – Aaron Motsoaledi

2014-08-25 10:42

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Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has appealed to the private healthcare sector to work with the government to strengthen South Africa’s health system.

Speaking ahead of the annual Board of Healthcare Funders’ conference, which begins in Durban today and ends on Wednesday, he said healthcare is everybody’s problem.

Motsoaledi explained that the country’s health system is characterised by inefficiency and inequality.

He said whenever he says this, “they say the efficiency is with them [public sector]. But we know that it is both sides.

“In the public sector [inefficiency] is brought upon by the glaring poor quality of healthcare – which we are trying to resolve daily. In the private healthcare sector it is brought upon by exorbitant fees, which we are unable to solve, and this brings a lot of inefficiency,” he said.

The conference, which attracts thousands of local, regional and international healthcare professionals and industry players, will address pertinent issues and solutions within the healthcare industry.

High level speakers will speak today, including Lord Nigel Crisp, member of the House of Lords in the United Kingdom; Dr Michael Armitage, chief executive officer of Private Healthcare Australia; Dr Jonathan Broomberg, chief executive of the largest medical scheme Discovery Health; and Dr Guni Goolab, principal officer of the Government Employees Medical Scheme.

The theme for today is effective leadership in health and providing affordable quality healthcare for patients.

Motsoaledi also urged delegates to discuss the changes taking place in the health sector in South Africa.

He said: “It cannot be business as usual for us. As the United States health system illustrates more than others, change is with us and it is likely to be with us for a very long time. As the social and economic status changes so too will the health system of this country.”

He said South Africa’s change will be brought about by the National Health Insurance (NHI) system, which government is piloting in 10 districts across the country.

“Many people are worried and are having sleepless nights about whether this is a change they want to embrace or fight. I will not tell you what you need to do but I am here to give you information [about the NHI],” he said.

Motsoaledi also asked the private healthcare sector to embrace the NHI, which acknowledges the importance of raising life expectancy, to reduce HIV infection in young people and create efficient health systems that provide quality healthcare.

He said the part of the national development plan that addresses health is in line with the next world health agenda, which is expected to be adopted next year when the United Nations millennium development goals expire.

Motsoaledi told delegates that the country must deal with the cost of private healthcare, inequality, inefficiency and quality of healthcare.

“The World Health Organisation said many years ago that inequality in the developing countries is socially unacceptable. Thirty years later, the national development plan is saying we need to deal with it by 2030,” he added.

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