Neelam Rahim | email@example.com
30 July 2023 | 16:58 CAT
The Institute of Race Relations has warned the National Council of Provinces that approving the National Health Insurance Bill will trigger an exodus of doctors and other health professionals who fear the NHI will destabilise healthcare rather than bring improvements. Despite the government giving the NHI the green light on the back of the ANC majority, there are severe misgivings from a wide spectrum of society over the Bill.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, IRR Campaign Manager Mlondi Mdluli said the government, especially the ANC and EFF, is hell-bent on forcing the NHI into law.
“The ANC led government and the EFF’s decision to vote in favour of the Bill at the National Assembly is a clear indication of this,” says Mdluli.
In its letter to the NCOP, the IRR said it was clear that many South African health professionals would be reluctant to subject themselves to the NHI’s comprehensive controls over their treatment decisions and their fees.
In addition, many important questions remain unanswered regarding the implementation of the proposed health scheme. For instance, its costs have never been properly quantified but are likely to be very high. As former health minister Dr Zweli Mkhize told Parliament in August 2019, it will not be enough to combine the amount being spent on health in the public sector (R220bn in 2019/20) with the amount being spent in the private sector (R250bn in that financial year), as a higher annual sum will be needed.
“There is an urgent need to improve South Africa’s healthcare system and make it more accessible. However, introducing the NHI Bill will not only fail to solve the country’s healthcare problems, but will likely make them worse. It would be irresponsible for members of NCOP to vote in favour of the NHI Bill in the face of the crucial warnings we list in the letter we sent to members,” says Mdluli.
The National Treasury warned in its October 2019 medium-term budget policy statement that NHI costs were “no longer affordable”, given the country’s current “macroeconomic and fiscal outlook”. This echoes an earlier warning by the Davis Tax Committee, which stated in 2017 that the NHI was “unlikely to be sustainable” without faster economic growth, which has not transpired and is unlikely to be achieved without serious economic reforms.
“In our letter to all members of the NCOP, we are urging them to vote against the NHI Bill and we are hopeful that they will do the sensible thing by voting against it,” added Mdluli.
Listen to the full interview on Your World Today with Mufti Yusuf Moosagie.