Motsoaledi moves to change ‘primitive’ system

Resource type: News

South Africa’s model of health care financing is “primitive” and will be abandoned, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said.

“The present system of health care financing can no longer be allowed to go on, because it is simply unsustainable,” Motsoaledi said during his budget vote speech in Parliament on Tuesday.

He said of the 8.5 percent of the GDP that was spent on health care, only 3.5 percent of the GDP catered for 84 percent of the population’s health care. The other five percent catered for just 14 percent of the population or seven million people.

“Nowhere in the civilised world can you find that state of affairs,” he said.

“The present model of health care financing is just outright primitive and we are going to abandon it.”

Motsoaledi said critics of the government’s proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) were “hard at work” to prove that the government was going to overburden the rich.

“NHI is a system of universal health coverage where every citizen is covered by health care insurance, rich or poor,” he said.

One health economist said earlier in June that the system was a “completely unworkable, unaffordable solution that won’t improve health services despite massive increases in expenditure”.

One of the proposals in the NHI is said to be a tax on all employed South Africans in order to create universal access to health care.

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has backed the NHI, saying it is disappointed at criticism of the scheme.

“It is this part of covering the poor and the unemployed that is bringing discomfort and unprecedented anger in the minds of the enemies of NHI,” Motsoaledi said.

On Aids, he said the government would “intensify efforts”.

He said the health department would work to ensure that 80 percent of HIV-exposed infants received antiretroviral drugs for preventing mother-to-child-transmission in 2009/10.

However, the distribution of female condoms is still in low supply.

The minister did not comment on the quality of the condoms after a scandal a year ago that many condoms were distributed to the public even after failing the tests.

In his endeavour to show that he was not an Aids denialist, Zuma has promised to intensify the fight against Aids by reducing new infections by 50 percent in 2011.

It is not clear, however, if Motsoaledi – in his new gesture – has taken to heart Malema’s advice that political leaders should take HIV tests when he announced the youth league’s “one girlfriend, one boyfriend” campaign.

“It is very important that we lead by example, and when that time comes, we will announce (it). I think that is what we need… to encourage leadership to undergo a public HIV test.

Malema said recently Zuma had done it and he said other leaders should follow.

Motsoaledi also assured South Africans that the spread of swine flu was under control, after reports of three more cases of the virus in South Africa.

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Issues:

Health

Global Impact:

South Africa

Tags:

National Health Insurance, NHI