In­ten­sify im­ple­men­ta­tion of NHI as trib­ute to Dr Se­fu­laro

Afro Voice (Free State) - - OPINION & ANALYSIS - DR ANNA MOK­GOKONG Dr Anna Mok­gokong is chair­per­son of AfroCen­tric Group and Com­mu­nity In­vest­ment Hold­ings, own­ers of Med­scheme and other health care providers. She stud­ied medicine with Dr Se­fu­laro

OUR role models in­spire us. In­no­va­tive and cre­ative lead­ers stim­u­late cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion. As one of the pi­o­neers of the Na­tional Health In­sur­ance ( NHI), the late Dr Molefi Se­fu­laro dreamt of the time when med­i­cal aid cover for ev­ery cit­i­zen was a re­al­ity.

As one of the fore­fa­thers of NHI, rather than cling to his heart, the deputy health min­is­ter saw with his mind the op­por­tu­ni­ties and pos­si­bil­i­ties of a healthy na­tion. In this sense, he was a true pi­o­neer and a vi­sion­ary leader who did not flinch from the re­spon­si­bil­ity of lead­er­ship.

He was in­tel­lec­tu­ally bril­liant, pas­sion­ate in his com­mit­ment to health jus­tice, im­pec­ca­ble in his in­tegrity, vi­sion­ary in his out­look, im­pa­tient with the sta­tus quo and deeply com­pas­sion­ate to­wards those in need.

Seven years af­ter his death, our great­est trib­ute to this diminu­tive doc­tor who died in a car ac­ci­dent on April 6, 2010, should not only be through an an­nual Dr Molefi Se­fu­laro Memo­rial Lecture, but by also in­ten­si­fy­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the NHI and pro­grammes to de­crease in­fant and ma­ter­nal mor­tal­ity rates and HIV in­fec­tion, ex­pand HIV-Aids treat­ment and re­duce the in­ci­dence of tu­ber­cu­lo­sis and malaria.

As one of the au­thors of the NHI white pa­per, he wanted to see af­ford­able health­care for all a na­tional pri­or­ity. His ex­pe­ri­ence, charisma and lead­er­ship is be­ing sorely missed.

One of the sharpest med­i­cal minds in the coun­try, Dr Se­fu­laro did not hes­i­tate to in­tro­duce new ideas to in­fuse vigour into the coun­try’s health sys­tem.

He re­alised that the health sys­tem was not serv­ing the poor and he was de­ter­mined to change this with­out de­stroy­ing those as­pects of the sys­tem which were work­ing.

Team­ing up with Health Min­is­ter Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, he was in­ti­mately in­volved in draft­ing the NHI white pa­per and the es­tab­lish­ment of sev­eral pro­jects, in­clud­ing the cam­paign to test at least 15 mil­lion peo­ple for HIV.

As health MEC in North West, Dr Se­fu­laro en­sured that his prov­ince im­ple­mented the pro­gramme to pre­vent mother to child trans­mis­sion of the virus.

As a highly skilled and elo­quent leader who made a cru­cial con­tri­bu­tion to fix the bro­ken health sys­tem in­her­ited from apartheid rulers. Earnest, but with an easy smile, Dr Se­fu­laro al­ways spoke in a mea­sured tone and took his time to make a point.

Asked dur­ing an in­ter­view with The Star, on how South Africans could trust po­lit­i­cal in mak­ing med­i­cal cover ac­ces­si­ble to all, he said: “The big­gest re­spon­si­bil­ity we all have is to use this time to build firmer foun­da­tions and sys­tems and to en­sure that th­ese sys­tems are so ro­bust that they with­stand any change in lead­er­ship.”

He un­der­stood and ap­pre­ci­ated the chal­lenges fac­ing the coun­try’s health sys­tem. He worked tire­lessly and self­lessly to en­sure that change was ef­fected for the bet­ter­ment of our peo­ple.

Few peo­ple can claim the per­spec­tive earned from a life­time of ex­pe­ri­ence in one field. Dr Se­fu­laro was one of those unique in­di­vid­u­als. As a fel­low stu­dent at then Med­i­cal Univer­sity of South Africa, now Se­fako Mak­gatho Health Sciences Univer­sity, I re­mem­ber him as one of those stu­dents that you ac­tu­ally looked for­ward to talk­ing to.

His smile was kind and reached out from his eyes to fo­cus di­rectly on the per­son he was with. It was clear that he cares about help­ing peo­ple. He was also cour­te­ous, self- ef­fac­ing and put his gifts at the ser­vice of our coun­try with­out seek­ing per­sonal gain.

When the true his­tory of the health in­dus­try is writ­ten, the name of Dr Se­fu­laro will be writ­ten in gold.

We have to honour him by con­tin­u­ing where he left off. How can we do that?

We need to make ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able health­care, a na­tional pri­or­ity through pub­lic pri­vate part­ner­ships (PPPs), a key fea­ture of the South African health­care land­scape un­der the NHI.

We at AfroCen­tric Group and our sis­ter com­pa­nies such as Med­scheme, and oth­ers un­der­stand that health­care re­form in South Africa is not go­ing to be a smooth ride, but it is ex­actly what the coun­try needs to achieve univer­sal health­care cov­er­age.

For us, PPP by def­i­ni­tion is to be a win-win propo­si­tion for all the peo­ple in­volved.

There is an op­por­tu­nity to en­sure more ef­fec­tive high qual­ity de­liv­ery is only go­ing to be achieved if there is a close part­ner­ship be­tween the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors.

As Dr Se­fu­laro be­lieved, part­ner­ships will en­sure qual­ity as­sur­ance in health pro­vi­sion.

The tech­nol­ogy will be up­dated, while ca­pac­ity build­ing will not only con­cen­trate on pub­lic providers, but the pri­vate for­mal and non-for­mal providers will ben­e­fit too.

At the mo­ment about 80% of the in­come of pri­vate hos­pi­tals, spe­cial­ists, doc­tors and other health­care ser­vice providers is de­rived from med­i­cal aid mem­bers.

If the NHI is im­ple­mented as Dr Se­fu­laro en­vis­aged, the NHI will con­tract di­rectly with health­care ser­vice providers and a cen­tral NHI fund will pay for ser­vices that are cov­ered. Pri­vate med­i­cal aids presently cover about 8.7 mil­lion South Africans. Once the NHI is im­ple­mented this fig­ure will more than likely dou­ble.

Dr Se­fu­laro was a true vi­sion­ary, a beau­ti­ful tal­ented soul, brave enough to think dif­fer­ently, bold enough to be­lieve he could change the world and tal­ented enough to do it.

The world rarely sees some­one who has had the pro­found im­pact, Dr Se­fu­laro has had, the ef­fects of which will be felt for many gen­er­a­tions to come.

PIC­TURE: FLICKR

BET­TER AC­CESS TO HEALTH: Im­ple­men­ta­tion of NHI aims to re­duce the HIV in­fec­tion rate among other things.

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