Nearly half a million people in the Western Cape are set to benefit from the roll-out of the government’s National Health Insurance (NHI) R1 billion pilot project due to start next month.
Last week, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced that Eden District would be one of 10 districts selected for the NHI pilot – a programme expected to revolutionise the public healthcare system in the country.
The pilot phase, which begins on April 1, is expected to provide cover for about 20 percent of the country’s most vulnerable members of society and, overall, 10 million people.
In the Western Cape, about 79 health care facilities in the Eden District, including hospitals, clinics, ambulance stations and forensic pathology laboratories are expected to benefit from the programme.
George Hospital, Knysna, Ladismith, Mossel Bay, Oudtshoorn, Riversdale and Uniondale hospitals were all to take part in the pilot.
When Motsoaledi announced the project last week, he said people could expect to see an improvement in the quality of health care, the revitalisation of certain structures and the hiring of district specialists.
Selected districts would engage private doctors at a later stage of the pilot phase, for which a conditional grant had been established.
The 10 municipal districts participating in the pilot programme nationally are: OR Tambo in the Eastern Cape, Vhembe in Limpopo, Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga, Pixley ka Seme in the Northern Cape, Eden District in the Western Cape, Dr Kenneth Kaunda in North West Province, Thabo Mofutsanyana in the Free State, Tshwane in Gauteng, and uMzinyathi and uMgungundlovu in KwaZulu-Natal.
Department spokeswoman Faiza Steyn said the provincial department would take an active role in the roll-out of the NHI project in the Western Cape with the department taking care of staffing and adding resources to facilities.
The SA Medical Association (Sama) in the province recently questioned whether the province could run NHI after Health MEC Theuns Botha raised concerns about it recently.
Botha said the rumour that the province had refused to participate in the NHI pilot was untrue. - Cape Argus