Work together for better health care
ON MONDAY July 17, I was saddened to read a published letter titled “Motsoaledi’s delusions of adequacy”, written by Mitch Launspach.
It is Launspach who is living in a delusional state – a state in which healthcare is denied to the greater population in favour of a few.
Sadly, Launspach’s delusional naive state is so deep that he believes that he, and I quote: “will not be dictated to by a public servant as to how he will spend his after tax earnings”.
He goes on to threaten that all our doctors will leave South Africa should they be forced to work for the government.
The final point made by Launspach is that ministers will not stop the current private sector model as that is where they go for treatment.
South Africa spends about 8% to 9% of its GDP on health care with the spend almost equal on both private and government service delivery.
This is good in terms of developing countries and in line with many EU countries’ spending, including the UK which spends almost all of it on their “NHI”, the famous NHS.
If we break these numbers down, then Motsoaledi only has half (4% of GDP) of the total of spend to pay towards government health service delivery.
Given that about one in six people have medical aid, basic maths would imply that Motsoaledi has about R1 to spend per capita for every R6 that the private market spends to deliver the same services.
Thus, government services are struggling and if the current strategy is not changed then the entire health system will collapse. This is not sustainable, and for us to have equity and the nation that we dream about, we must solve this dilemma.
Without good health care, we cannot grow as a people or as an economy.
Health care, like education, is a fundamental building block of peaceful and successful nations.
Motsoaledi is not delusional and he understands the stakes and the risks all too well.
So, I put it to you Mr Launspach: You are living in a delusional world that will result in great pain for all if it were allowed to continue.
Rather than attacking the concept or the message bearer, it is time for us to consider how we will all work together to make it happen for the benefit of all who will share this land for generations to come.
That brings me to your second point. The NHS in the UK like other public health systems has a compulsory tax element that funds the health system and ensures that all have access to good health care.
This direct tax is more efficient and transparent than a general tax. Oh, and yes, some people still secure gap cover so that they can go to a private hospital for certain conditions (almost like a local hospital plan).
Thus, you will not be “dictated to by a public servant as to how to spend your after tax earnings”. The basic NHI tax will be legislated and you will have the freedom to top-up with private gap cover, if you so desire. But pay you will.
I lived in the UK for 10 years and learned to appreciate paying about half of what I was paying for medical aid in South Africa for health care.
At times the NHS system frustrated me as I was used to being over serviced in the private South African system.
But it is amazing to be cared for in a system where the patient is the focus rather than being left for dead until your medical aid details can be confirmed.
No public health system can be managed effectively without the employment of good doctors, specialists, administrators and most important, nurses.
The private sector is part of the solution as they will have to contract into the NHI and bill the government for their services.
The private and government network of professionals and hospitals will have to work together to cover all our people.
After all, the very same professionals were trained by universities that are subsidised by the government and our taxes.
It is time to give back. I would rather have an inclusive market, a market that services 56 million people rather than just 8 to 9 million people.
I would rather be part of the solution that helps drive much needed positive change, that helps solve the equality problems and makes a difference.
To all the Launspachs, please excuse my directness and my sarcastic approach.
I hope my message of optimism, and of being part of the solution, inspires others to be part of the solution. Boskruin
WRITE TO US
GOVERNMENT SERVICES STRUGGLING: Minister of Health Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, briefing the media on matters of national importance, during a media briefing at the GCIS in Pretoria.