By Emily Setona
QWAQWA – Residents of Maluti–a–Phofung (MAP) local municipality unanimously agree that the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill should be implemented with immediate effect following extensive debate and elucidation by the Portfolio Committee on Education, Health and Social Services led by Montseng Tsiu.
According to Tsiu, the NHI is going to assist those members of society who cannot afford medical care such as serious heart surgery.
“The NHI is not going to discriminate; it is going to be accessible and assist anyone who needs medical care but cannot afford it. If a health care provider is registered and works according to the terms and conditions of the NHI, then citizens can even access private health care.
“This will only happen oncw the President signs and operationalises this Bill.”
Tsiu was speaking at the Phuthaditjhaba Multi-purpose Hall during a public hearing with community members on 12 October.
During the question-and-answer session, Tumelo Marumo of Matsiekeng, who is the chairperson of the local executive committee for clinics in MAP said:
“I support this Bill but my request is for the stakeholders involved in the implementation of the NHI to work with our committees so that we can ensure that we solve many of the health care challenges that our people are experiencing; and that this process does not continue to take any longer than it already has.”
Siphiwe Mokoena echoed this sentiment as when he said he does not understand why the process of passing this Bill into law is taking so long as this was not the first public engagement of the matter.
“This is not the first consultation we’ve had and if I’m not mistaken it has been three years since we have been talking about this Bill. We want the NHI now because when it comes to health care services for the poor, the public health care facilities have one doctor servicing a 100 patients. In the private health care sector one patient has access to ten or more doctors,” Mokoena said.
For his part, Dr Letsika Mofokeng who is the director of clinics and hospitals in the Thabo Mofutsanyana disctrict, said:
“The implementation of this fund is not a process that can happen in one day and as a department we are aware of all the challenges that the public health care sector is experiencing.
“We are trying to offer our communities the best services that we can. It may seem like what we are offering is not much, but the NHI Bill is one of the ways that we are trying to fix some of the challenges that we face in this sector.”
Chairperson of portfolio committee Montsheng Tsiu.
Many of the community members at the public hearing were in support of the Bill in the hope that it will solve most of the health care challenges faced by the poor.
The objectives of the NHI Bill is to achieve universal access to quality health care services in the South Africa in accordance with section 27 of the Constitution; 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 health care services by the fund on behalf of users; to create mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient utilization of the resources of the fund to meet the health needs of the population to preclude or limit undesirable, unethical and unlawful practices in relation to the fund and its users; and to provide for matters connected herewith.