The national government has allocated a grant of R33 million for the national health insurance (NHI) pilot projects earmarked for KwaZulu-Natal in the 2012/13 financial year.
This was revealed on Wednesday by the provincial department of health during a briefing to members of the legislature’s health portfolio committee on the progress made by the province in preparation for the roll-out of the pilot projects.
From the beginning of next month the government plans to pilot the NHI at three districts in the province – namely uMgungundlovu, Umzinyathi and Amajuba – with the province having budgeted R110m for the pilots from its own coffers.
The provincial government had decided to voluntarily take over the third district of Amajuba because of its low population and low disease burden.
“We wanted to take a third district, but not one that was going to give us headaches in terms of size… We are excited about this, although we know it’s a tall order,” said MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo.
He said that KZN was the only province where the NHI would be piloted at more than one district.
This was because of the province’s high disease burden and its sheer size.
“KZN is a very large province, and is more rural when compared to Gauteng,” he said.
Dhlomo said the province was keen to succeed, pointing out that the success of the NHI pilot projects would also augur well for this province in dealing with the diseases it faced and the health-care problems besetting it.
“The national minister (Aaron Motsoaledi) is also very keen to see KZN pushing on the NHI non-negotiables.”
The non-negotiables of the NHI include ensuring that there are enough medical supplies, infection control measures, children’s vaccines and adequate equipment and infrastructure.
But the NHI would also require improving the management and capacity at the health-care institutions.
Dr Victoria Mubaiwa, one of the senior managers chosen as champions of the NHI pilot projects in the province, said the department would also look at ways in which to strengthen capacity at the health-care facilities across the province.
Dhlomo said that with the NHI, the focus would also be on prevention, rather than focusing solely on treatment.
Portfolio committee chairwoman Lydia Johnson on Wednesday said the committee would monitor all the developments related to the pilot projects.
“This would be a standing issue for this committee. On our meetings we will require an update on the progress made,” she said.