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Parliament, Tuesday, 5 November 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Health concluded its public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in Springbok in the Northern Cape Province yesterday.

The committee conducted public hearings on the Bill in four local municipalities in the province, Sol Plaatje Local Municipality, Emthanjeni Local Municipality, Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality and Namakhoi Local Municipality.

The Chairperson of the committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo told the people of Springbok that according to the NHI the state must take reasonable legislative and other measures, within its available resources, to achieve the progressive objectives as outlined in the Bill. The key objective is to ensure that every citizen gets access to quality health care.

Inefficiencies in clinics and hospitals, and also the nonexistence of healthcare services in certain communities in the Northern Cape Province was sharply raised by residents in all the public hearings including in Springbok.

The people of the Namaqualand district told the committee that the nonexistence of healthcare services in their communities compels them to conclude that they are ‘the forgotten people’ in the Republic of South Africa. They told the committee that there are no clinics and hospitals in their communities hence they conclude that they don’t belong to the Republic of South Africa.

A resident from Steinkopf community told the committee that there is no clinic and no hospital in Steinkopf, and the majority of the people living there are unemployed and there are elderly people. To reach the nearest hospital which they said is very far, they pay not less than R200.00 per person no matter how seriously ill is the person. They asked the committee to ensure that there is a mobile clinic in their community at least to take care of the old people.

The committee also received inputs from the public calling for support for the people living with disabilities. The committee heard from the people with visual and hearing impairments that they don’t get assistance at the clinics. The committee heard that those with hearing impairments struggle to access services because there are no sign language translators available at state service delivery institutions and that both the government and Disabled People South Africa (DPSA) should do more to assist them.

The committee also heard oral submissions from the two medical professionals who left the state hospitals and joined the private sector. Although they support the Bill, they highlighted the shortcomings in the current healthcare system which they said must be addressed urgently.

They proposed that the government must focus its attention on fixing the existing healthcare infrastructure including health facilities, and ensure that there is an existence of the culture of the delivery of health services to the people, especially in the historically impoverished and disadvantaged communities.

Dr Dhlomo said: “It appears that as you move from the capital of the province (which is Kimberly) deeper into the province, the more difficult it becomes to access basic health services and that should not be the case.” He called upon the MEC for Health and the Department of Health in the province to address the challenges that were highlighted by the people during the public hearings as a matter of urgency.

The objective of the Bill is to achieve universal access to quality health care services in South Africa in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution; to establish a National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and to set out its powers, functions and governance structures; and to provide a framework for the strategic purchasing of health care services by the fund on behalf of users.

The committee will conduct public hearings on the Bill in the next few weeks in Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape provinces.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON HEALTH, DR SIBONGISENI DHLOMO.

For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:

Name: Felicia Lombard (Ms)
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8285
Cell: 081 548 7011
E-mail: flombard@parliament.gov.za