(AFP) ~ AFP
Cape Town - The health department's budget allocation for 2015/16 is R157.3bn, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said on Wednesday.
Tabling his first main budget in the National Assembly, he said there had been a marked reduction in child mortality in the past five years, supported by improved access to antenatal services.
A substantial part of the budget was for HIV/Aids, tuberculosis, and maternal and child health.
Three million patients were now on the antiretroviral (ARV) treatment programme.
"The mother-to-child transmission of HIV has decreased from 20% a decade ago to two percent last year, and is expected to decline further over the period ahead," Nene said.
The department was in its fourth year of the phased 15-year roll-out of the National Health Insurance (NHI).
The white paper on the NHI, to be released soon, would elaborate on proposed policy.
A NHI fund would be established over the medium-term to purchase health care services on behalf of the population.
Details on the functioning of the fund would be set out in the white paper.
Nene said the National Treasury would also soon release a discussion paper on financing options.
Spending on the NHI had been lower than anticipated the past two years, partly due to difficulties in contracting general practitioners.
Over the medium-term, the focus of the NHI grant would be to pilot the contracting of health care professionals.
Nene said R1.5bn was being shifted from provincial budgets to the national health department to enable the National Institute of Communicable Diseases to be directly funded.
He said this shift would be offset by lower tariffs for services provided by the National Health Laboratory Service.
The Office of Health Standards Compliance had been listed as an independent legal entity.
According to the budget review document, this office would be responsible for inspecting and accrediting all public and private health facilities.