Letter to the Editor, Business Day
1 July 2009
In the commentary, Beware of building heavyweight health structure on weak foundation (Business Day, June 29, page 12), it is alleged that I was responsible for “dismantling the Medicines Control Council as part of the virodene affair”. I want to state categorically that attributing the changes that took place at the MCC during my period in office as director-general of health was not my doing, and neither was I involved in the virodene affair. These are red herrings, fabricated to bring into discredit the current process around a national health insurance (NHI) policy for South Africa.
Furthermore, I need to remind the author and readers that the introduction of a national health insurance system has been on the government’s agenda since 1994, and it is not my invention.
I am glad that the author of the commentary agrees with me that South Africa definitely needs a new health care system, and I would like to point out that at the very heart of any such policy should be upgrading the current health system. At the same time one has to keep in mind that despite policy efforts, public sector health services continue to face severe budget constraints, and that is the very reason why an NHI should be introduced: to address the problems of the dual health system in which the mismatch of resources in the public and private health sectors relative to the sizes of the two populations, contributes to the inefficiencies in the use of available resources.
Olive Shisana

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