The traditional healers of the communities of Mpumalanga’s Thembisile Hani Local Municipality told the Portfolio Committee on Health during public hearings on the National Insurance (NHI) Bill, that the Bill is silent about them.

On Sunday at the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality in Kwaggafontein, the traditional leaders used the opportunity presented to them by the public hearings to express their feeling of being excluded in the Bill.

In presenting their oral submissions, the traditional healers told the committee that the Bill is a progressive move, but the government they said, must be aware that people are dying in hospitals yet the government ignores the indigenous services of traditional healers.

In welcoming and supporting the Bill with other people in the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality, the traditional healers said, for the Bill to be successful it should be inclusive of all forms of treatment including indigenous medications as there are traditional communities that believe in traditional indigenous medications.

Also, the people of Thembisile Hani Local Municipality warned the committee against spending more money on implementation of NHI and allocate less money on other basic and essential services like infrastructure, water and sanitation.

Mr Sibakala Mahlangu, a community member, questioned the committee as to how the NHI will be implemented without affecting the economic situation of the country. He said the Department of Health is struggling with its current allocation of the budget in meeting its needs and providing good quality healthcare.

The Thembisile Hani community in Kwaggafontein said another thorny issue that they have with the Bill is the failure in addressing undocumented foreign nationals. Mr Kenneth Makhawula said South African has a challenges with foreign nationals coming into the country. He wanted to know how will the government ensure that they are paid for to access the NHI. With people having to register to be part of the NHI, the community wanted to know how will undocumented foreign nationals be catered for, and how will the government be able to budget for them.

They said in as much as they are looking forward to the implementation of the NHI, but the government must ensure that other services are not ignored.

Ms Maria Mbau cried to the committee, saying the Thembisile Hani Local Municipality does not have water and this is a serious concern for them as community members.

The Chairperson of the committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, said as the committee, they are there to listen to the views and concerns of the people regarding the Bill, and assured the people that all their views and questions will be thoroughly considered after the public hearings when the committee will be dealing with the Bill in Parliament.

The objective of the Bill is to achieve universal access to quality healthcare services in South Africa in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution.

By Yoliswa Landu
28 October 2019