Cape Town – Deputy Health Minister Joe Phaahla has insisted that the government would implement the National Health Insurance and the Covid-19 outbreak has laid a solid foundation for universal health coverage.
The NHI has been in the making for some time after the government announced 10 districts as pilot sites across the country.
The government has said it would continue with plans to implement NHI.
Phaahla told the National Council of Provinces on Thursday that the idea was to ensure all South Africans have access to quality healthcare.
He said Covid-19 has opened the window of opportunity to fast-track the implementation of NHI.
“This pandemic has highlighted the fact that we need to move with speed because what we have been doing now with very limited resources between the private and public health sector was really more of a stop-gap.
“What is required in terms of long-term readiness is the pulling of all the health resources, human resources and infrastructure rather than what we have done during this period where we had to, on an impromptu basis, go out and recruit including volunteers, health professionals and community health workers, entering into agreements with private health providers including hospitals and laboratories,” said Phaahla.
“Once we can put all these resources and create one national health service under the NHI pandemics like Covid-19 will be managed with a lot more certainty because instead of spending a lot of time in negotiations, entering into agreements we would have this as a standing arrangement in terms of where there is no major division between private and public and also with the financial resources we will be able to pull all those resources and even plan emergencies and laboratory resources. Indeed, the NHI will go a long way in managing future pandemics,” said Phaahla.
He said once there was full implementation of the NHI, people will be able to access health services without any problems.
He said 84% of the people in South Africa depend on the public health system and it was overstretched.
He said the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into focus the downside of the health system.
The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the fact that the healthcare system in South Africa was fragmented and unequal, said Phaahla.
But they had collaborated with the private sector during Covid-19 where they shared resources.