South Africa

Government has no plan to improve public healthcare

Joe Phaahla

Professor Alex van den Heever said the government has no plan to improve the struggling public healthcare system despite its dire state.

Van den Heever made these comments during an interview with The Money Show’s Bruce Whitfield on the recently passed National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.

Many stakeholders, including Solidarity Research Institute head Connie Mulder, said the government should fix the broken public healthcare system instead of looking at a new system.

Mulder said apart from the NHI being completely unaffordable, it is also unnecessary as South Africa already has a public health sector.

“We spend more than most developed countries on our public healthcare sector. If we get bad outcomes, that doesn’t mean we need to spend more,” he said.

“We are dealing with a fatally flawed, systemic corrupt public healthcare sector, which is why we are where we are.”

The private healthcare sector is doing a far better job of providing quality care for its clients, and the government now risks breaking it with NHI.

Instead of messing with the private healthcare system in South Africa, Mulder said the government should focus on fixing the public healthcare sector.

Van den Heever agreed with Mulder, saying the NHI seems to be a political ploy by the ruling party rather than an implementable plan.

Instead of fixing the poor public healthcare system, it wants to convince voters that the NHI will bring excellent healthcare to all citizens.

“There is no evidence that the government is interested in improving public healthcare or the private sector. It is basically doing nothing,” he said.

He explained that the NHI Bill does not address any of the weaknesses in the public or private healthcare systems.

“As there is no indication that the government is interested in improving the healthcare system, it looks like a political proposal,” he said.

However, it may not play out as the ANC envisages. “The ANC has painted itself into a corner because what they have proposed through the NHI can’t be done,” he said.

“They can also not walk it back, which means they are sitting in an impossible position where you can’t go forward and can’t go back.”

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