Health Minister finally concurs with DA that there is no money for the NHI

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
19 Jan 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Michele Clarke MP

The DA welcomes the Minister of Health, Joe Phaahla’s admission in answer to a parliamentary question that South Africa would not have the estimated R200 billion in the short or medium term to address the health sector’s infrastructure challenges in order to implement the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.

It seems the DA’s insistence on a financial feasibility study – which will surely underscore the NHI’s unaffordability – and our repeated requests that the Minister of Finance, Enoch Gondwana, appear before the parliamentary portfolio committee on health has finally cleared the fog a little.

In fact, the Finance Minister last year practically confirmed that the NHI is a pipe dream when he said in answer to a DA parliamentary question that the cost model will not automatically translate into budget allocations. The DA’s repeated requests that the Department of Health present a detailed cost model and financial impact study have been willfully ignored.

And despite the ANC’s continuous denial in committee, the Health Ombud, Professor Malegapuru Makgoba, did in fact state, “with the level of inspections and certification we have done so far … I suspect most of the hospitals will not meet the high standard required of the NHI”.

The DA’s repeated engagements with experts and health sector stakeholders, as well as our own projections, has also made it clear as day that not only does South Africa not have the financial means to ensure the successful implementation of the NHI, the ANC government also does not have the political will to ensure that the process is free from mismanagement and corruption.

Oversight visits to all corners of the country have revealed the extent of the decline, with some facilities like the Pelonomi Hospital in the Free State and Livingstone Hospital in the Eastern Cape bordering on human rights violations – with little to no consequence management from the Department regarding these serious concerns as well the various and varied allegations of millions of rands of corruption.

The public health sector’s woes does not end with infrastructure failings. Staff shortages, surgery backlogs, medicine and supply stock outs, the dire effects of loadshedding on health facilities, broken and outdated equipment, maladministration and corruption are just some of the myriad problems crippling hospitals and clinics across the country.

Until the ANC government can make a success of the current public health sector, the NHI should not even form part of the conversation. The DA will not allow the large-scale destruction of our health sector for the sake of cheap politicking.