Poor will suffer under NHI, DA says

2011-12-05 21:17

Cape Town - The poor will likely suffer more under the proposed national health insurance (NHI) system, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

"Our research shows that, not only are there serious doubts around the feasibility of the NHI, but that it will actually work against its stated objective to provide improved quality health services for all South Africans," DA spokesperson Mike Waters told journalists at Parliament.

"We believe that the poor will suffer more under the NHI because it will divert billions of rands from other development challenges such as provision of basic services, education, and housing."

NHI would also create a bureaucratic and inefficient healthcare superstructure that would diminish the quality of public healthcare.

There were a number of specific reasons why NHI would not improve the quality of healthcare to the poor.

Among other things, NHI did not fix the real problem of low-quality healthcare provision in the public sector.

Instead, the green paper focused on accessibility and finance, when there already was universal accessibility and enough funding to run a quality public health system.

What it lacked was quality, which should be the government's main priority.

NHI did not adequately attend to accountability and management structures.

The ministerial task team report on healthcare funding stated: "No part of the health system is held properly accountable for poor health outcomes or poor service delivery."

While the green paper called for an Office of Standards Compliance, its members would be appointed by, and would answer to, the health minister.

"It will not be truly independent, making it vulnerable to political influence," Waters said.

Human resources were lacking to introduce NHI, which demanded that the current 27 000 doctors be tripled.

Creation of a centralised fund would also over-bureaucratise the public healthcare system, rendering it more inefficient and costly than it was currently.

Throwing money at a problem did not always solve it.

South Africa spent R2 766 on public healthcare per person each year - far more than other developing countries.

Malaysia, for instance, spent only R2 180 per capita, Thailand just R1 700 per capita, Namibia only R1 594 per capita, and China a mere R846 per capita.

"These countries enjoy higher levels of life expectancy than South Africa, which suggests that money is not the primary problem with our public healthcare system."

The DA believed there was a better way.

By strengthening the positive elements of the public sector and removing its deficiencies on a planned and sustained basis, healthcare could be improved for everyone.

"That is the lesson we have learned in the Western Cape," Waters said.

  • Gavin - 2011-12-05 22:38

    The NHS is failing in the UK, how the hell is the NHI going to cope. Hwaven help us!!!!!!

  • colin.dovey - 2011-12-05 22:41

    NOTHING that the ANC has cooked up has worked. They are totally inept as a Government, so what makes them think that, having wrecked the Health sector, Education, Police, Transport....need one go on....that they now can suddenly pull a box of tricks out of a hat and correct everything? The ONLY thing that keeps them in power is an under-educated, ill-informed populace....and they seem to prefer to keep it that way so they can continue plundering and raping the fiscus!

  • Craig - 2011-12-05 22:59

    The "Poor" may suffer, but us tax payers will be footing the bill for thieves and mal-administration till we die.

  • MaxOdin.SA - 2011-12-05 23:43

    While I agree on the general idea of the statement I must disagree with the main point. It is not only the poor that will suffer with regards to healthcare. Should the NHI go ahead there will be one bonus and that is the upgrading of state hospitals which is outlined as a neccessity before implementation. The downfalls however are as follows: The government doesn't have a good track record with regards to proper spendature of proposed budgets so some of that money allocated for the upgrading of state hospitals will inevetably be abused. Medical aid will become a luxury as we are taxed more to enable the NHI to have sufficient funding which means that more people will rely on NHI. The proposed taxes will take middle classed homes/families down to lower classed families as the household incomes decrease. Medical aid rates will sky rocket because of the system they use to fund their patients. They will end up with smaller client bases and less income to support the current model. inevitably medical aid companies will need to amalgamate or close. If the proposed improvements are not made to state hospitals this will lead to a complete collapse of the medical sector state and private. I believe the opposite is true in that the problem IS money. The government has systematically diverted funding from healthcare to fund other projects. Also the issue of money also pertains to the correct application there of. Time to stop wasting money and put it where it belongs.

      Raymond - 2011-12-06 08:13

      You seem to know your stuff! My son has qualified as a medical doctor in the UK but wants to complete his internship in SA. Why has he to verify his qualifications using Philadelphia U.S.A.? He could be one of the 54 000 doctors waiting in the wings for work here.

  • MaxOdin.SA - 2011-12-05 23:45

    Also am I understanding correctly? Human resources were lacking to introduce NHI, which demanded that the current 27 000 doctors be tripled. Are there only 27 000 doctors employed in state hospitals? 27 000 doctors to +- 45 000 000 people??? Really???

      Peter - 2011-12-06 02:39

      You think 27000 doctors is low? How about the number of psychologists? I think it is less than a hundred.

      michael.heyns2 - 2011-12-06 08:08

      There is definitely not 27000 doctors in South Africa. Inefficiency at the HPCSA has led to a situation where nobidy knows how many doctors there are in the country. Many are registetred here but they work and are registered overseas as well. I think the numbers are in the order 0f 15000 to 20000. If that. Only 1200 doctors are trained in South Africa every year and that number has stayed the same for the past 15 years.

  • Moss - 2011-12-06 07:56

    Knock it off DA, it's becoming boring!!

      colin.dovey - 2011-12-06 08:27

      @Moss - the truth is only "boring" to those who don't want to hear it my friend......if we all go to sleep, the "powers" that be will go on on constructively letting things slide. Think about what you are saying....the DA is far from perfect....nothing in politics IS perfect - it is the nature of the beast. Are YOU prepared to just sit back and allow the ANC...or ANY other party purporting to represent YOU and I, to do what they want to with YOUR money? - if you find it boring, then go read and comment somewhere else.

  • Assis - 2011-12-06 07:59

    The green paper wants to reinvent the wheel. Clearly health care would go along way in improvement if the focus was on corruption and maladmistration within the Health Dept.

  • karina.suter - 2011-12-06 08:05

    The goverment hopitals are not even paying their bills right now. Their laboratory service is not paying their bills either. Their suppliers have not been paid for two months now. How can they manage a NHI systems succesfully?

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