Parliament, Sunday, 24 November 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Health today held its public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in the Clydesdale Community Hall in Umzimkhulu.
The second last day of the KwaZulu-Natal hearings saw a fully packed hall, with many residents standing as all the seats were taken.
Committee Chairperson, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, thanked the public for coming out in such big numbers. “We are here to listen to you. Parliament sent us to get your views. The NHI proposes universal access to healthcare services, irrespective of your financial status. The NHI is clear, even if you don’t have money you will be receiving medical care.”
There was wide support for the NHI from the community, although some felt that challenges in the current system should be addressed first before the NHI becomes a reality. This, according to them, means more hospitals should be built as the area currently has only one hospital.
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.
As has been the case with the other hearings thus far, residents took the opportunity to raise other challenges in the healthcare system, such as the shortage of hospitals, shortage of doctors, and running out of medications were raised repeatedly.
Several participants raised concerns over the proposed emergency medical care that will be provided to asylum seekers or foreigners, should they need it. Residents wanted clarity on whether this group of people would be contributing to the NHI Fund. They agreed that even in the case of an emergency, foreigners should make a contribution to the fund.
Some residents required clarity on the possibility that the NHI Fund could run out, just as medical benefits do run out during the course of a year.
Dr Dhlomo reiterated that the NHI will be implemented incrementally and that the idea is to close the gap so that the poor are not excluded from the system. He assured the public that all contributions about the Bill will be taken into consideration.
Dr Dhlomo further reminded members of the public that they have until 29 November 2019 to make written submissions on the Bill. The public hearings will continue tomorrow in the Endumeni Local Municipality.
Details of the public hearings are as follows:
Endumeni Local Municipality
Date: 25 November 2019
Venue: Glencoe Town Hall
Time: 14:30 – 19:30
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