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Transgender community concerned NHI won't improve healthcare quality for them

While the National Health Insurance Scheme is expected to provide universal healthcare for all South Africans, there are concerns that not much will change for the transgender community.

The rainbow flag, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Picture: Pixabay.com

JOHANNESBURG - While the National Health Insurance Scheme is expected to provide universal healthcare for all South Africans, there are concerns that not much will change for the transgender community.

This week, Eyewitness News is focusing on the state of health in the country, covering a wide range of topics, including transgender care.

There are questions over whether government hospitals are adequately assisting transgender patients with questions now over the new NHI.

Seoketsi Mooketsi is a transgender woman who first received medication from a government facility two years ago to become the person she wanted to be.

She said she doubted that NHI would improve the quality of the healthcare she received.

When she started her transition two years ago, she said she was humiliated at government hospitals.

"I walk into a healthcare facility and demand assistance because already you are viewed as something that is taboo - witchcraft or just taboo. So many queer people and trans people that are in the rural areas are trapped."

Mooketsi said that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) was expensive in South Africa and she wondered if this would change with NHI.

"We don't even have facilities, we don't have facilities providing HRT, we don't even have doctors that are sensitised. What happens if 90% of the staff within that facility are extremely homophobic or transphobic, how then do you access services that you have a right to."

Mooketsi doubted that the promises of NHI would be a reality.

While the public health system was continually criticised for being ineffective, the transgender community said that government facilities had the potential to provide adequate assistance.

Mooketsi said that while she noted that there were problems within the healthcare system, the medication was available for all.

"I had to learn that the hard way. I had to go through various hurdles... don't get me wrong, it wasn't a walk in the park ... it was hard."

She said that as a transgender woman, it’s been mostly difficult to access the medication she needed but she hoped this would change for those who came after her.

"Survival, survivorship for black rural trans women and the queer community in general because we don't have the capacity, the privilege or waiting for resources to come from offshore to rescue us."

Mooketsi said that she was living proof of what could be achieved when the health system worked.

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