HASA condemns 'medical aids are a crime against humanity' comments

2017-02-08 21:26


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Johannesburg - The Hospital Association of South Africa says comments made by Dr Kgosi Letlape stating “medical aids are a crime against humanity”, are unfairly targeting one sector of the health care system that provides cover to millions of South Africans. 

His comments come at a time when the South African health care system faces a number of urgent challenges that must be addressed, HASA chairperson Melanie Da Costa said. 

Da Costa said it was ignoring the challenges which included the debilitating shortages of doctors and specialists, the lack of infrastructure to produce the number of doctors the country needs and the falling numbers of public sector hospital beds. 

“In South Africa, there are only 60 doctors per 100 000 people – the world average is 152 per 100 000. This one issue affects the entire health care system and goes to the heart of whether it is able to function well or not,” she said.

This comes after Letlape recently spoke to academics and medical professionals at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. 

Letlape said that private health care in its current form could not exist with government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, as the privileged few who had access to medical aid – including those in government who are subscribed to it – refuse to engage, saying “hands off my medical aid”.

In a research report, Identifying the determinants of and solutions to the shortage of doctors in South Africa, the consultancy notes that South Africa has eight medical faculties producing doctors, or one medical school per 6.6 million citizens. 

Across Africa the number improves slightly to one school per 4.9 million. 

Da Costa said South Africa does not allow private education of doctors like India and Brazil. 
“If we are to address the health care challenges we face in this country the long term sustainable solution is the production of more doctors.

“If we tackle this challenge along with a robust primary health care approach and a determination to increase the numbers of public hospital beds available, more people can be treated, the burden of disease better addressed, and there will be improved access to quality health care.” 
According to Da Costa it does not help to re-arrange the deck chairs and to become embroiled in false debates about whether or not medical aids are a “crime against humanity”. 

“The real debate is why are we not allowing private medical schools to contribute to solving the doctor-shortage challenge if Government’s already tight budget does not enable the funding of new training institutions.”

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  health

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