Parliament, Monday, 2 December 2019 – The Portfolio Committee on Health has concluded the third leg of the Eastern Cape public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in Mthatha in the OR Tambo District Municipality with some residents calling for the immediate implementation of NHI.

The committee has been in the Eastern Cape Province since Friday 29 November to enable the people of the province to participate in the law making process of the NHI. The first leg of the hearings on the Bill were conducted in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality. The following municipality was the Chris Hani District Municipality where the hearings were hosted by Queenstown.

Commenting on the participation of the public during the hearings in Mthatha in the OR Tambo District Municipality, the Chairperson of the committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhomo said: “The public hearings in Mthatha were educational to me especially on the understanding of the concept of universal health coverage as espoused by the NHI. The residents called for the public release of the NHI pilot sites report so that we could learn from the report.”

Dr Dhlomo noted the comments made by the medical practitioners from the South African Medical Association in Mthatha, on working with the Department of Health and other stakeholders to iron out teething challenges that were experienced during the pilot phase. There were also questions that were asked as to why the process of consultation is still ongoing when the implementation is overdue.

Some of the issues raised by residents included the call to end the commercialisation and privatisation of the healthcare as this was an antithesis to universal healthcare coverage especially to the poor. Furthermore, some of the participants called for the Bill to deter outsourcing of services as this presented an opportunity for corruption which must be avoided.

Participants also expressed that the Bill must address the issues of intellectual property especially in relation to traditional medicines and state owned pharmaceutical companies to reduce the burden of the high cost of medicines.

Dr Dhlomo also noted that some of the challenges that were pointed out by residents, challenges such as shortage of nurses, doctors, ambulances, dilapidated healthcare infrastructure, long queues and the lack of access roads to healthcare facilities are the responsibility of the Department of Health.

He implored both the national and provincial departments of health to furnish the committee with reports of progress in rolling-out universal healthcare. “It is always helpful if senior officials of the Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Health to travel with the committee to listen to the concerns of the people and must find ways of resolving the challenges. We will invite the Department of Health to Parliament to brief on updates on the challenges faced by the people on a daily basis,” Dr Dhlomo said.

Dr Dhlomo appreciated the contributions made by Mthatha residents and the sacrifices they made that included their weekends to ensure that they participated in the hearings. The appreciation was also extended to the Members of Parliament and parliamentary staff for the meaningful role they have all played during the hearings.


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

Name: Malatswa Molepo (Mr)
Parliamentary Communication Services
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