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Parliament, Monday, 04 November 2019 – The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo told the residents of the Northern Cape Province’s Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality and nearby communities that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill is a translation of what is stated in Section 27 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, that every citizen has the right to quality health care.

Explaining the purpose of the public hearings on the Bill in Upington yesterday, Dr Dhlomo told the people that the Bill aims to provide equal and quality health coverage to the people of South Africa irrespective of their economic circumstances. He called upon the people of Upington and the surrounding areas to exercise their constitutional right of participation in law making process of the Bill.

The residents of Dawid Kruiper Local Municipality and nearby communities of Kakemas, Keimoes and Riemvasmaak asked the committee to ensure that the Bill addresses health problems that are unique in their areas. Among the problems they highlighted in their submissions was the fact that their communities that are far apart, share only one ambulance, and an ambulance, they said, that reaches less than 20% of patients a day, leaving the rest dying in their homes.

Apart from the problem of sharing one ambulance, the people mentioned a series of other problems they said they endure on a daily basis, those problems include travelling long distances before they reach health facilities, waiting very long hours before they get medical services or don’t get doctors at all, and the availability of a limited number of nurses who are compelled to carry heavy workload that include administrative work.

They told the committee to ensure that the Bill addresses the incapacity of the public health facilities in their communities, the communities they said are historically disadvantaged.

The people wanted clarity on the sources of funding for the NHI asking the committee to ensure that the working class people are exempted from taxation for the purposes of funding of the NHI. They proposed that the NHI funding must be sourced from big corporations and private companies. The people urged the committee to ensure that there is a very strong and effective monitoring system in place for the protection of the NHI fund from the monster of corruption and looting.

They also told the committee that mental healthcare is not provided at the health facilities in their communities. “There must be provision of mental healthcare service at health facilities in our communities as that is not a luxurious privilege, but a basic need” especially for diagnosis of children who are often labelled as naughty.

In thanking the people for their attendance and participation, Dr Dhlomo assured them that the committee is going to process their submissions. “We appreciate your submissions and be assured that all of them will be considered,” reiterated Dr Dhlomo. He told the Department of Health’s officials who attended the hearings to improve the service they render to the people. “Do your level best on the available resources.” He added.

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; to establish a National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) and to set out its powers, functions and governance structures; and to provide a framework for the strategic purchasing of health care services by the fund on behalf of users.

The committee will today finalise its hearings in the Northern Cape Province in Namakhoi Local Municipality in Springbok.

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 with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:

Name: Felicia Lombard (Ms)
Parliamentary Communication Services
Tel: 021 403 8285
Cell: 081 548 7011
E-mail: flombard@parliament.gov.za