Johannesburg - National Health Insurance (NHI) is seen as the
solution to all health system ills, to the detriment of other policies, a
public health expert said on Wednesday.
"To some extent... NHI has become almost like a panacea
to solve all the problems in the health system," Dr Duane Blaauw told a
debate on the ANC's policy discussion documents at the University of
the Witwatersrand, in Johannesburg.
The ANC's policy discussion document on health focused
mainly on NHI, he said. All other health policy processes had been put
on hold as a result.
The NHI was seen as able to decrease the bad things
about private sector healthcare, to strengthen primary healthcare and
address human resource issues, Blaauw said.
The other issues in the document were minor, such as HIV notification and the creation of a state-owned pharmaceutical entity.
However, key issues were not included in the ANC document.
"The NHI debate has created the idea that the main problem with the health system is the private sector," Blaauw said.
The document does not examine the weaknesses of the
current public health system or look at the various unsuccessful
interventions that had been made over the last 18 years to try to fix
It made little mention of the lack of doctors and nurses.
"There is nothing really about how we try and create dedicated patient-oriented doctors and nurses," he said.
National Planning Commission member Hoosen Coovadia defended the proposed NHI, saying health was a public good.
It had worked in Brazil, China and some Scandinavian countries, and so should work in South Africa, he said.
The ANC holds a policy conference every five years before an elective conference, with the next one in Mangaung in December.
ANC branch members and alliance representatives debate
policy, and any policy changes decided at the policy conference need to
be ratified by the elective conference.
The next policy conference will be held in Midrand next month.