Parliament, Monday, 25 November 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Health has today concluded its public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, on a high note in the Endumeni Local Municipality in KwaZulu Natal (KZN).
The Endumeni Local Municipality’s Glencoe Town Hall which hosted the last leg of the hearings in the KZN province was packed to its full capacity. Committee Chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, on behalf of the committee appreciated the attendance of the public and thanked their meaningful participation and submissions he described as concise.
Like in other provinces where the committee has conducted public hearings on the Bill, there was wide support for the Bill in the KZN. The majority of residents who participated in the hearings supported the Bill as they hoped that it will address the question of quality healthcare especially to those in deep rural areas.
The residents highlighted in their oral submissions the problems they face on a daily basis in their communities, the problems that include the lack of ambulances, shortage of medicine and staff at health facilities.
The aim of the NHI Bill is to achieve universal access to quality healthcare services in South Africa, in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution. It further aims to establish a National Health Insurance Fund and to set out its powers, functions and governance structures to provide a framework for the strategic purchasing of healthcare services by the fund on behalf of its users, to create mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient utilisation of the resources of the fund to meet the health needs of the population and to preclude or limit undesirable, unethical and unlawful practices in relation to the fund and its users.
The residents called upon the committee to ensure that the NHI Fund is under the care of trustworthy people to ensure that it is safe from corruption and fraud. Several presenters made a call in their oral submissions for unannounced visits by departmental officials to hospitals for the purposes of concrete monitoring.
Dr Dhlomo refuted claims by certain members of political parties who participated in the hearings that the hearings are flawed and that the public is being misled about the objectives of the Bill. “There was a wide spectrum of views. People from various backgrounds came to have a say on the Bill. If the claims were true, surely we would not have heard the concerns which the people raised that include structural and infrastructure challenges in the public healthcare system that needs to be addressed. It would have been all positive,” said Dr Dhlomo.
He said: “Before we started with the public hearings, I wrote to all the political parties represented in the National Assembly with the dates and times of the hearings. I said please inform your members, your voters and your supporters. It is therefore disingenuous for any political party to say when people come to the various public hearings and call that political rallies. We could have accepted them as rallies of those political parties." Furthermore, Dr Dhlomo asked where are their members, why are they not turning up in big numbers and come and express their views in this meetings? He added: "If one political party bring its supporters, it does not exclude any other political party from doing the same."
Dr Dhlomo added: “The claims make me believe that this is a pure political posturing which gives one the impression that some parties thought these hearings would be a failure. Now that they have been proven wrong, they are grasping at straws.”
Dr Dhlomo reminded the public that they can still make written submissions on the Bill until Friday, 29 November 2019. Written submissions must be directed to Ms Vuyokazi Majalamba and be addressed to the Portfolio Committee on Health 3rd floor, 90 Plein Street, Cape Town 8000, e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 086 6943279 by no later than 29 November 2019. In addition to the written comments, please indicate your interest in making a verbal presentation. Copies of the Bill can be obtained from Ms Vuyokazi Majalamba (021) 403 3770, cell 083 709 8522 or at www.parliament.gov.za
The committee will conduct the hearings on the Bill in the Eastern Cape on Friday, 29 November 2019.
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, please contact the Committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Rajaa Azzakani (Ms)
Tel: 021 403 8437
Cell: 081 703 9542
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