Unaffordable healthcare is fatal for the poor - Motsoaledi

2016-05-10 13:10
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi (File)

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi (File)

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Cape Town – If no drastic action is taken against unaffordable cancer and TB drugs, the country will be counting body bags like it was at war, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday.

"Anybody who is desperate to remain alive and tries to obtain treatment at current costs will end up in poverty," he said.

Motsoaledi was presenting his budget vote in Parliament, where he bemoaned the high costs of medical care, using cancer drugs as an example.

"Just as the price of ARVs were unaffordable then, cancer drugs are devilishly unaffordable today.

“Two years ago, I was regarded as exaggerating, or outright insane by some, when I spoke openly against pharmaceutical companies that were planning a price onslaught against us. Today, that onslaught, which I had foreseen, is here with us," he said.

He called for the same solidarity that was employed to reduce the price of ARVs, to be used in the fight against non-communicable diseases and drug resistant TB.

Highlighting some examples, Motsoaledi said a breast cancer patient, who needed Trastuzumab, known commonly as Herceptin, needed R500 000 for a year’s treatment.
- R396 613.00, for colorectal cancer;
- R960 000.00 for metastatic melanoma;
- R204 000.00 for MRD-TB; and
- R832 000.00 for XDR-TB

The minister said these examples indicated how impossible it was going to be, or already was, for many people to survive major illnesses.

He said government would end up bankrupt trying to meet the health needs of its citizens.

The disaster of unaffordable healthcare unfortunately affected people unequally, however.

Those of higher socio-economic status were better protected and the unfortunate ones of lower economic status were left to die, he said.

Deputy Minister Joe Phaahla said cancer remained one of the leading causes of death in the country, especially breast, cervical and prostate cancer.

Motsoaledi said they wanted fair, just and equitable healthcare systems that would provide everyone with access to good quality care.

Read more on:    aaron motsoaledi  |  health  |  parliament 2016

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