ANC one step closer to destroying health care in South Africa

Issued by Michele Clarke MP – DA Shadow Minister of Health
23 Nov 2023 in News

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

The select committee on health’s decision to pass the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill on Tuesday, indicates that the National Council of Province (NCOP) will follow the National Assembly’s (NA) suit and push the problematic Bill through as well.

This despite the many unanswered questions that the Department of Health has been either unwilling or unable to answer.

The ANC government’s insistence on implementing the NHI will spell disaster for the public and private health sectors. One only has to look at the current state of public health care in the country to predict the coming decimation.

In answer to a recent written parliamentary question (PQ) from the DA, the Minister of Health revealed that the ideal clinic status of 69.8% of hospitals that submitted an assessment were unsatisfactory. These hospitals failed to meet the minimum norms and standards to ensure that the roughly 80% of people currently using the public health system, receive quality and safe health care. If they are buckling under the current volume of patients, how will they endure the influx of formerly private health users? Because the survival of private health institutions seem unlikely at best.

Another DA PQ revealed the shortage of psychologists, psychiatrists, and occupational therapists in the provinces. The vacancy rates in Limpopo are particularly concerning:

• Psychiatrists: 85.2%;

• Clinical Psychologists: 67.7%; and

• Occupational Therapist: 64.3%.

Considering that crucial vacancies of all types of medical professionals have become a constant in the public health sector – one unlikely to change with government’s current budget cuts – these vacancies will not be filled anytime soon, and the already overworked health care workers will struggle to give quality health care to roughly 11 million additional patients. Has government even considered the unemployment rate once it destroys the private health sector?

The DA is also very troubled by the fact that the Eastern Cape and Gauteng failed to provide the requested information. This is nothing new. Despite PQs being a vital means of conducting oversight, answers are often incomplete, or poorly answered.

Given the extra billions the NHI will cost, the number of moving parts it would require to successfully implement and monitor the NHI, and how tight lipped the Department is still on how exactly the NHI would be funded and which services would be covered (among the many unanswered questions), the fact that Health Minister, Dr Joe Phaahla, is unable to get cooperation from the provinces on something as simple as answering parliamentary questions indicates that nothing but chaos will follow the inking of the NHI Bill.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s term has been marked by ineptitude, cadre deployment and protection of the politically connected. He has not shown an ounce of care to the people of South Africa – the Ramaphoria of his early months of governance nothing but a fading memory. But he has the opportunity to do one good thing before his he’s voted out in 2024 – follow the advice of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, do not sign the NHI Bill.

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