Speaking at the third People’s Health Assembly at the University of the Western Cape (UWC) the National Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi said that the first few years of the National Health Insurance (NHI) system would be dedicated to building the foundation phase.
Motsoaledi explained: “In South Africa, the next five years will be dedicated to building the foundations of the NHI system. This includes strengthening the public health system, which we have started to do.
“Practically, this means improving the management, improving the availability of medicines and other commodities, providing good quality health care, ensuring that health care providers are well trained and committed to providing the best care possible.
“It also means redesigning the health system. We know that a strong primary health system is key to good health outcomes. We have already embarked on these processes but need the full support of various stakeholders.
“This is our challenge. History will judge us on what we did to make our world a more just and equitable place for future generations. “
In his message Prof Brian O’ Connell the rector of UWC, said, humankind faced a number of grand challenges, including climate change, the increasing scarcity of natural resources, food security and rapid population growth. “Each one of these challenges will provide a stern test for us, but together they demand a level of consciousness and competence of majestic proportions.
“The responsibility for finding inventive responses to these challenges rests with each of us,” he said.
Prof David Sanders the director of UWC’s school of public health, said that taking South Africa’s wealth into account, its maternal mortality rates remained among the highest. “In countries such as Cuba, Thailand and Bangladesh, which are poorer, the rate is lower. People live in poor sanitary conditions and in Khayelitsha up to 400 people share one standpipe for their water. Most people in informal settlements get their water from standpipes, but when the water from the pipes are stored in a container even for a day it is not safe,” he said.