For National Health Insurance (NHI) to be successful the quality of public healthcare must improve “tremendously” and a stop must be put to the pricing of private health “which is running away with us”, health minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi told the Healthcare in Africa meeting last night (TUES).
“In fact it is non-negotiable,” the minister told The Economist sponsored meeting, which will today discuss the challenges of health systems in Africa.
Motsoaledi said the country needed one healthcare system if it wanted to address the challenges of infrastructure, human resources, quality of healthcare, the re-engineering of the primary healthcare system and the cost of healthcare.
“The public and private healthcare system as whole is not efficient,” Motsoaledi warned.
“The cost of healthcare (in the private sector) is running away with us and that is where NHI comes in,” he said.
“I don’t know how we address any of these challenges without a universal health system.
“We cannot continue to have a healthcare system in South Africa where only the few, the rich and the powerful – and here I include myself as a member of a medical aid funded by the State – have access to proper healthcare,” said Motsoaledi.
Quizzed on the one, big challenge he faces in trying to establish an equitable health system in the public sector, Motsoaledi laughed: “There are many, but I would says quality of care and human resources are the toughest challenges when it comes to establishing NHI.”
The minister also cautioned that NHI was one of the points in the 10 point plan. “In 2008 we embarked on a diagnostic journey to establish what has gone wrong since 1994 and what needs to be corrected to get the health system back on track. NHI emerged as one of the points that needed to be included in this plan,” Motsoaledi said.
He said the country would have had “no chance” to cope with the current HIV/AIDS burden if the programme only relied on the current number of doctors.
“We would have not been able to put 1,5-million people on ARVs without task shifting to nurses,” he said.