The planned National Health Insurance (NHI) system could only work if sustainable solutions were found for developing the country's health infrastructure, the SA Municipal Workers Union said.
"While Samwu sees the NHI as the financial arm of a national health service... the primary focus should always be on the actual provision of health services," spokesman Tahir Sema said.
"Without a national health infrastructure of medical facilities, including the appropriate level of health staff...the NHI might end up being no more than a life-saver for the ailing private sector," he said.
Sema said Samwu and its medical scheme, Samwumed, were in full support of the NHI, a system that would focus on primary health care for all citizens.
"It remains our view that the very ethos of health care delivery as enshrined in the Constitution must be realised through direct government transformation of both the public and private sector delivery models," he said.
The union said the success of the NHI would rely on the development of infrastructure, systems, controls and human resources in the public sector as well as regulation of the private sector, through measures like tariff regulation and delivery controls. (Sapa/ May 2011)
The ANC's NHI plan