Health scheme a priority, says Zuma

by Aug 14, 2009All Articles

Natal Mercury
10 August 2009

President Jacob Zuma says the proposed national health insurance (NHI) scheme will help reduce the number of women who have no access to quality healthcare.

Speaking at a Women’s Day ceremony in Vryheid on Monday, Zuma said SA could only measure the progress it had made since democracy by increasing the number of women who had access to quality healthcare.

“We will pat ourselves on the back when the mother and the infant mortality rates are reduced…

“Improving the health of South Africans, especially women and children, is a key priority for the government,” he said, suggesting the NHI was key to achieving this objective.

He said some hospitals needed refurbishment while others were in good shape but were run by incompetent managers who were not committed to the health of the people.

“Our people tell us that at some clinics they are given painkillers only for every ailment as there is nothing else available.

“A key solution would be the introduction of national health insurance for the country,” he said, adding that the scheme’s broad objectives were the funding and health delivery mechanisms.

His comments come in the wake of warnings by Higher Education Minister Blade Nzimande that there would be “war” against capitalists if they tried to block implementation of the system.

Zuma said yesterday the NHI would be a financing system which would see government collecting and allocating money for healthcare to service providers.

“All these funds will be placed in a single pool that would be available to fund healthcare in the public and private sectors.

“The intention is that the contribution should be less than what members and their employers currently pay to medical aid schemes.

“The advantage of the scheme is that it would expand health coverage to all South Africans, regardless of their economic or social status.”

Zuma said: “No upfront payment will be required by a doctor or hospital.
“Certain categories of workers, due to their low income, will be exempted from contributions.”
Zuma said the government would consult with all sectors affected before implementing the scheme, and urged the public to participate in the debate.

However, critics have argued that the scheme would be too costly to implement and would not work if public health service problems, largely stemming from poor management, were not addressed first.

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