Migrants and their children to get access to NHI, says Gauteng health MEC

2019-08-21 05:26
Gauteng Health MEC  Bandile Masuku. (Supplied)

Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku. (Supplied)

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Migrants and asylum seekers will have access to Gauteng's hospitals when the National Health Insurance (NHI) is implemented. 

"Migrant access to health care will not be affected in any way, the Constitution guarantees anyone access to health care.

"The NHI fund guarantees that registered migrants, asylum seekers, etc. - you will still have access," Gauteng Health MEC Dr Bandile Masuku has revealed.

At the moment, the Gauteng Department of Health was expected to recoup the money from migrants' countries of origin for health care afforded to them in the province, Masuku said.

"Currently, we do not have a system in place in the department to recoup funds used to provide health care to migrants/migrant children. We have tried to recoup the money.

"We will still attempt to do this, and we have received payments from Lesotho and Botswana. However, Nigeria refused but with the National Health Insurance we will be able to bill you and the fund," he told News24 in an exclusive interview on Monday.

The bill - which is a topic of much debate - was introduced to Parliament last week with the aim of achieving universal access to quality health care services in accordance with Section 27 of the Constitution.

The NHI will create a single pool of health care funding for private and public health care providers. It would also pay public and private health care providers on the same basis and expected the same standard of care from both, News24 earlier reported.

ALSO READ: Five things you need to know about the new National Health Insurance Bill

The above sentiments shared by the MEC, however, are contradictory to the lived experiences of many foreign nationals at the hands of nurses in the public health care system.

On Tuesday, the News24 reported a Zimbabwean national lost her baby after he fell to his death during delivery at Mamelodi Hospital after nurses allegedly refused to assist her.

The nurses allegedly told the woman "this was not Zimbabwe".

In another incident, a woman, who was in labour, was turned away by a nurse because she was "too old", and as a result gave birth at the gates of the Stanza Bopape Clinic.

ALSO READ: 'I have nothing to say to those nurses' - woman left to give birth outside Mamelodi clinic

The above instances highlight some of the criticisms of the NHI Bill that it is being introduced to a health care system that requires serious intervention.

"We have challenges of staff shortages, old dilapidated buildings and clinics, we also have a challenge of [old] equipment and a population challenge. We have moved in 10 years ago from a population of 8 million, now we are at 15.5 million.

"These challenges have made our workforce quite demoralised and that affects health care," Masuku said.

When probed on whether the Gauteng public health care system's challenges should be addressed prior to introducing the NHI, the MEC said: "I think introducing the NHI is part of the process of improving health care.

'It will have to go together, we cannot put one above the other - it is like saying that we will have to wait for the chicken to come up with eggs before we prepare for breakfast.

"I do not think that is the case, we are preparing for breakfast."

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Read more on:    bandile masuku  |  johannesburg  |  nhi  |  health

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