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'Private sector likely to benefit most from NHIS'

Cosatu & the SACP have warned that the private sector will be the biggest beneficiary of the NHIS.

Cosatu’s secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi has lashed out at private pharmaceutical companies that are opposing changes to the law that would allow cheaper generic drugs that are not accessible to the country's poor. Picture: Sapa

JOHANNESBURG - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) have warned that the private sector will be the biggest beneficiary of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), due to confusion about its funding proposals and access to cheap generic medicine.

Cosatu's secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi and the SACP's Blade Nzimande both addressed the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa)'s National Congress on Thursday and called for clarity on the effectiveness of the NHIS and its implementation.

Nzimande says private hospitals are already being built to service NHIS initiatives and could further inflate the costs of treatment.

"Those private hospitals are positioning themselves to be the primary providers, to suck this money from government into private hands. Who is funding some of these private hospitals? It's our development finance institutions."

Meanwhile, Vavi has lashed out at private pharmaceutical companies that are opposing changes to the law that would allow cheaper generic drugs that are not accessible to the country's poor.

"To develop generic drugs in this country so that our people can be saved from the likes of Pfizer and their high prices. Tell me that I'm ultra-left, tell me that I'm anti-ANC for raising that, but I think we have a responsibility, comrades."