The people of the Vhembe district of the Limpopo province welcomed the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill and told the Portfolio Committee on Health which conducted the public hearings on the Bill that the NHI is long overdue especially in their communities where they said they go through a strenuous struggle before they get healthcare services.

The committee conducted the first leg of public hearings on the Bill in the Limpopo province in the Vhembe district on Friday 15 where the people praised the NHI as a good initiative that according to them will breach the gap between the rich and the poor with regard to access to healthcare.

The people of Vhembe wanted to know from the modalities that will be used by the government to manage the implementation of the NHI. They told the committee that Parliament should put in place measures that will prevent the NHI from corruption. Furthermore, they said that undocumented foreigners should not benefit unlawfully from the NHI.

The Chairperson of the committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, told the people that the NHI is the financing system that will ensure that all the South African citizens and legal long-term residents are provided with essential healthcare, regardless of their employment status and ability to make a direct monetary contribution to the NHI Fund.

Dr Dhlomo explained further that the Bill is in line with Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.

The people made individual submissions and there were submissions that were made on behalf of community based organisations. The organisation in the Vhembe district included,  Vhembe Health Traditional Forum, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU).  

In supporting the Bill, the people of the Mopani and Sekhukhuni districts urged the committee to fast-track the finalisation of the Bill to ensure its immediate implementation.

Like in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga provinces they also argued that the Bill should make a provision for the traditional health practitioners, highlighting in their oral submissions that traditional healers are ignored yet they have a rich indigenous health knowledge system.

In the Sekhukhune district, the people appealed with the committee to strengthen its oversight over the Department of Health to ensure that the health facilities especially in their communities have enough capacity to deliver health services to the people and don’t run out of medicines as that is always the case.

Furthermore, they told the committee that, as part of norms and standards of the NHI Fund, the clinics should have at least one medical doctor.

The committee told the people that it will consider all the submissions on the Bill after the process of public hearings has been concluded in all the nine provinces.

Also in the Capricon district the people highlighted similar issues in their oral submissions like the residents of the Vhembe, Mopani and Sekhukhuni districts.

The committee told the residents in all the districts that it will consider all the submissions on the Bill after the process of public hearings has been concluded in all the nine provinces.

Limpopo was the third province where the committee conducted public hearings on the Bill after Mpumalanga and Northern Cape provinces. The fourth province will be KwaZulu-Natal which will be followed by the Eastern Cape province before Parliament rises for the December holiday.

Justice Molafo
21 November 2019