Work to­gether for bet­ter health care

The Star Early Edition - - LIFESTYLE - Steven Baard

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


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.

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