NHI proposals to be unveiled soon

2011-02-15 14:56

Cape Town - Details of the long-awaited national health insurance (NHI) scheme, which the government has been working on for the past year, will soon be released for public inspection, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Tuesday.

Briefing journalists at parliament in Cape Town, he said the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) that has been working on the policy document for the past year had completed its work, and the document was now being prepared for presentation to cabinet.

“Last week , the IMC sat... and were satisfied with the document and passed it. We are in the process of preparing for the next... cabinet meeting. If it's approved there, it will go for public participation, a process that... will take three months.

“From public participation it goes (back) to cabinet, and then to parliament to be passed as an act,” he said.

The committee's work on the NHI over the past 12 months had focused on primary healthcare, costs and the economic benefits of the scheme.

Motsoaledi said a parallel process had been taking place within his department to prepare for the scheme, and details of this will be unveiled "in due course".

His announcement that the white paper will be released "in a very short space of time" follows a similar one by President Jacob Zuma, in last week's state of the nation address.

Turning to maternal and infant mortality rates, Motsoaledi said South Africa was not doing well and the rates were "unacceptably high".

However, while the government accepted recent figures on infant mortality, it was questioning the "extraordinarily high" figure for maternal deaths.

"We don't believe it's as high as the figure that has been given to us of about 600 deaths per 100 000," he said.

A data advisory committee, including top researchers, demographers and experts, had been established and was working with the government to review the figures.

On combating HIV/Aids, Motsoaledi said that over and above the HIV counselling and testing campaign, launched in 2010, there were eight other "prevention interventions" being implemented by the government.

These included a male medical circumcision campaign, which since its launch in April last year had carried out 17 000 circumcisions.

An "aggressive" condom distribution campaign had seen over 403 million male and more than 4.3 million female condoms distributed by the health department up to the end of last year.

Motsoaledi also gave an assurance on safe blood transfusions in South Africa, saying the chance of anyone getting HIV from the country’s transfusion service "will be one in a million".

On the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, he said it was imperative that all pregnant women in the country went to clinics to determine their HIV status.

He said the weakness of the programme for the treatment of HIV-positive pregnant women is it has to start at 14 weeks.

Currently, 70 000 HIV-positive children are born each year.

While the department wanted to reduce this figure to zero, many HIV-positive pregnant women are only presenting themselves at clinics just before they are set to deliver their babies.

"Because if a woman is at term and you start mother-to-child transmission (treatment), the chances of stopping the HIV from going to the child are very slim," he said.

On antiretroviral treatment, Motsoaledi said access to this had increased, "with a total of 1.3 million people being on treatment by the end of December (last year)".

He further called for the fight against tuberculosis to be intensified.

More than having the highest TB infection per unit population rate in the world, South Africa also had the highest TB-HIV co-infection rate.

The government is set to unveil new strategies to combat TB in March.

  • goose - 2011-02-15 15:37

    Hahahahaha While ordinary SA citizens are about to be broken financially by the 25% Eskom increase, toll fees and other rampant increases in fuel and food, the geniuses in the ANC see fit to put the final nail in the coffin with the NHI!!!!! Go ahead ANC, I think SA's "Tunisia day" is very, very close indeed!

  • Marius - 2011-02-15 16:01

    It is amazing that Motsoaledi the health sector regards a risk of getting aids from a blood transfusion "one in a million" as safe. Better odds of getting aids than winning the lottery jackpot.

  • Jacob - 2011-02-15 16:09

    I spoke to a government official sometime during the weekend at a braai, and guy said that NHI and nationalization were going to be a reality, and that resisting against it is just a waste of time. He further mentioned that white people who don't like it must go to exile just like he had to leave the country back in the day.

  • Mike - 2011-02-15 16:12

    This works well in countries where most people are empolyed and the standard of health care is equal across all institutions. Please explain how this will be funded when we have such high un-emploment rates and the health care offered varies. If this is implemented then it must be mandatory for all politicians in the ruling party to only use this medical scheme.

  • claren - 2011-02-15 16:15

    Goverment should take a look at the UK where the NHI is in a shambles.If they cant get the present state hospital up to scratch now how is the NHI going to sort the problem out.Just another form of taxation the same as education.S.A new motto should be work fingers to the bone and TAXED to death.

  • Serious - 2011-02-15 16:16

    C'mon people relax, the same thing is done in england and it works fine. Thing is in a democratic country everyone should be healthy. Health shouldn't be a privilege of the haves only. Also keep in mind what we do today is for our future generations. If we manage to raise healthy children there is hope for this country. This is one thing we need to work together with the govt to see that it works perfectly.

  • Sage - 2011-02-15 16:17

    As long as the regime is unable to efficiently run the government hospitals under its control there is absolutely no need to consider any proposals related to NHI. Such an endeavour is infinitely beyond the scope of this regime. This matter is reality is entirely academic.

  • JD Metcalf - 2011-02-15 16:29

    For a very good article on the NHI go to and read the posting titled: "Does the ANC's National Health Insurance really matter?" by Cees Bruggemans. If you want some real in depth stuff look at and their research articles on the NHI.

  • DeonL - 2011-02-15 16:43

    Most working people would not want to go to state hospitals for treatment, some GP's will be interested to help the state but will we be allowed to help?

  • bye - 2011-02-15 17:04

    i'm taking my R500,000 salary and skills and leaving the country. The govenrment can kiss my R15 million contribution to South African economy goodbye

  • fairychild - 2011-02-16 08:19

    hahaha....Please just inform the people at the clinics that stapleing condoms together doesn't really help of my staff members came to work the one day with 3 condoms that were stapled together (in the middle of the packet)laughing his head off!!!

  • NHI FTL - 2011-02-16 09:41

    If the NHI or Nationalization goes through Im otta here. The ANC have already cost me too much. Good luck going backwards SA!

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