Parliament, Saturday, 23 November 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Health today continued with its public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in the Olive Convention Centre in eThekwini.
But not before Committee Chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, joined a march against gender-based violence and mental illness by the Dr SB Radebe Foundation where he advocated for the support of the NHI. Here he addressed thousands of supporters on the benefits of contributing towards the public participation process.
Later in the day, members of the public trickled into the venue for the public hearings to make their input into the proposed legislation. Dr Dhlomo reminded the public that currently, if people need access to health, those with more money will get better and faster access to health services. This Bill aims to level the playing field for all South Africans.
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.
“Long queues, unavailability of medication, slow response of ambulance services and the attitude of staff at medical facilities were mentioned as challenges. We had the national and provincial health departments present. They were able to note the challenges raised. At a later meeting in Cape Town, they will be requested to indicate how they intend addressing those matters raised at the hearings,” said Dr Dhlomo.
“These enablers make it somewhat difficult for some to support the NHI. We want to remind the Department of Health to address these challenges.”
The committee further noted concerns raised regarding constitutional matters, like the rights of asylum seekers and foreigners with regard to the level of healthcare services they would be receiving under the proposed Bill. According to some presenters, it is unconstitutional and discriminatory to only afford emergency healthcare services to such individuals.
The committee’s next stop for public hearings is Umzimkhulu on Sunday.
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:
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