BOOST FOR NHI BILL

Om­buds­man Mak­gopa sup­ports health scheme

Pretoria News Weekend - - FRONT PAGE - BALD­WIN NDABA

SOUTH Africa’s Health Om­buds­man Male­ga­puru Mak­goba has come out in sup­port of the pro­posed Na­tional Health In­sur­ance (NHI) Bill.

Mak­goba said yes­ter­day the tabling of the white pa­per on NHI by Health Min­is­ter Dr Aaron Mot­soaledi for public com­ment pro­vided an op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss find­ing last­ing so­lu­tions to im­prov­ing health­care in the coun­try.

The call for sup­port came af­ter Mot­soaledi vowed that all psy­chi­atric pa­tients will be­come the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the na­tional gov­ern­ment to avoid a tragedy sim­i­lar to that of Life Esidi­meni.

Mot­soaledi said that while the deaths hap­pened in Gaut­eng, all nine pro­vin­cial health de­part­ments would cease to have pow­ers to look af­ter psy­chi­atric pa­tients.

He also promised to pro­vide Gaut­eng and KwaZulu-Natal with all nec­es­sary equip­ment to treat can­cer pa­tients in the coun­try, say­ing all that was part of his NHI plan.

Mak­goba said there was an ur­gent need for a uni­ver­sal ac­cess to health­care in the coun­try.

“We dare not fail on this am­bi­tious chal­lenge.

“South Africa’s Na­tional Plan­ning Com­mis­sion (NPC) rec­om­mended uni­ver­sal health­care – the NHI – as the pol­icy op­tion in 2012, al­most three years be­fore the UN and WHO, as part of its rec­om­men­da­tion to ad­dress the triple chal­lenges of poverty, in­equal­ity and un­em­ploy­ment. This was en­dorsed by all po­lit­i­cal par­ties in Par­lia­ment and must now be im­ple­mented,” he said.

A sim­i­lar sys­tem was im­ple­mented 70 years ago in Bri­tain. It is called the Na­tional Health Ser­vice (NHS) and res­i­dents there had never de­bated whether it should ex­ist or be re­viewed, Mak­gopa said. “Over the 70 years of the UK’s NHS ex­is­tence, pas­sion­ate de­bates have and con­tinue to take place on mat­ters of gov­er­nance, man­power (hu­man re­sources), lead­er­ship and fund­ing.

“Th­ese are real painful im­ple­men­ta­tion is­sues, all meant to im­prove the func­tion­ing and bet­ter trans­la­tion of the NHS con­cept in re­al­ity on the ground,” he em­pha­sised.

Mak­goba said Mot­soaledi has led and cham­pi­oned uni­ver­sal health­care, say­ing he “started the race, led the race and must com­plete the race”.

He said the Bri­tish model was sim­i­lar to that pro­posed by Mot­soaledi in South Africa. In the UK, for the first time, hos­pi­tals, doc­tors, nurses, phar­ma­cists, op­ti­cians and den­tists were brought to­gether un­der one um­brella or­gan­i­sa­tion – the NHS, that is free for all at the point of de­liv­ery.

“The cen­tral prin­ci­ples were clear: the health ser­vice will be avail­able to all and fi­nanced en­tirely from tax­a­tion, which means that peo­ple pay into it ac­cord­ing to their means,” he said.

Mak­goba said the Bri­tish sys­tem was based on the model that the “the rich must sub­sidise the poor to es­tab­lish and pro­vide uni­ver­sal health­care”.

“As South Africans. we should there­fore not fo­cus our dis­cus­sion or de­bates on ac­cept­ing the prin­ci­ple or the con­cept of uni­ver­sal health­care. We should take this as a given.

“Like in many coun­tries, the con­cept should be ac­cepted as it of­fers the only and best op­tion cur­rently avail­able. The NHI is in line with our con­sti­tu­tion and Na­tional Health Act (NHA).

“It is the most trans­for­ma­tive con­cept to our health sys­tem since the dawn of our democ­racy,” Mak­goba said.

He said the NHI, im­ple­mented prop­erly, would not only “ad­dress all the chal­lenges we face within the health sys­tem but would also trans­form the health sys­tem pro­gres­sively and fun­da­men­tally”.

“We dare not fail on this am­bi­tious chal­lenge,” he stressed.

Health Om­buds­man Male­ga­puru Mak­goba has come out in sup­port of the pro­posed Na­tional Health In­sur­ance Bill.

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