Parliament, Tuesday, 29 October 2019 – Communities living in Gert Sibande District Municipality told the Portfolio Committee on Health that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill must ensure that people living with disabilities are taken care of.

On the last day of the public hearings on the NHI Bill at Gert Sibande District Municipality in Ermelo, people with disabilities came in large numbers, saying that they support the NHI Bill. However, the Bill must ensure that it addresses the challenges they grapple with on a daily basis.

These problems include inaccessibility of healthcare facilities, the lack of aides for people with disabilities and healthcare workers’ poor behaviour towards people with disabilities.

The public hearings in Gert Sibande were well attended. Citizens told the committee that the government usually introduces programmes with good intentions, but then the officials employed to implement such programmes find loopholes in the system for the purposes of corruption.

The people urged the committee to ensure that strong systems and regulations are put in place to deter corruption. If the legislation fails to tighten its systems, they said, there will be corruption and the objective of the NHI will be compromised.

The committee was told by the people of Gert Sibande that the Bill is silent on municipal healthcare services, which they believe should bear more responsibility for healthcare. The Bill stipulates the roles of the Minister and provincial government, but is silent on the role of municipalities, they said.

In their oral submission, community members told the committee about the lack of ambulances in the district municipalities and the long distances people have to travel before they reach healthcare facilities. They also mentioned the poor behaviour of the nurses and other service officials.

In supporting the Bill, the people asked the committee to tell the government to upgrade the existing healthcare infrastructure to ensure the successful implementation of NHI. Also, the people appealed to the committee to ensure that the implementation of NHI provides employment opportunities for the people of Gert Sibande.

In thanking the people of Gert Sibande District Municipality for their attendance and contributions, the Chairperson of the committee, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo, assured them that the committee will consider all their views and the suggestions at the right time. “Not even one view or suggestion will be ignored,” said Dr Dhlomo.

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. The committee called for written submissions from the public on the Bill at the beginning of September 2019, and the closing date for submissions is 29 November 2019. The hearings will move to the Northern Cape from 1 to 4 November 2019.


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Name: Ms Yoliswa Landu
Parliamentary Communication Services
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