'Healthcare shouldn't be about profit'

Healthcare provision should never be about profit maximisation, the African National Congress Youth League (ANCYL) said on Thursday as it welcomed government’s announcement concerning National Health Insurance (NHI).

Following the news earlier on Thursday that government would pilot the NHI system in 2012, the league added that “the chapter of massive inequalities on healthcare provision should gradually be closed, because the lives of all South Africans are valuable and can never be compromised because of socio-economic standing”.

The league said that in South Africa, the inequalities in healthcare provision “are defined along racial lines”—this was evident as the life expectancy of black South Africans stood at 48 years, while the life expectancy of white South Africans stood at 71.

The NHI was therefore expected to guarantee all South Africans access to quality healthcare in all medical and healthcare facilities in the country.

“The ministry of health should also move with speed towards regulation of healthcare prices in the private healthcare facilities, particularly hospitals and clinics. Private hospitals continue to make abnormally huge profits at the expense of the health of our people.”

The NHI was also meant to improve healthcare services provided in public hospitals.

“The health of our nation is elementary to far reaching progress and the future, so we carry an obligation to protect interventions that will stabilise and equalise healthcare provision across racial and class lines.”

According to government’s announcement, Cabinet had approved that the NHI green paper be released for public comment.

“Cabinet believes that this is a major step towards improving the access and quality of healthcare for all citizens of South Africa.”

The Cabinet stressed it should be borne in mind that the success of the policy would largely depend on a whole range of other important variables such as clean water, nutrition and general physical exercise etc.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the implementation of the NHI would be a 14-year process.—I-Net Bridge


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