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Parly Health Committee aims to conclude NHI Bill public hearings in February

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the NHI will only be fully implemented by 2026, while Treasury has estimated that rolling out NHI will cost an additional R33 billion a year from the beginning of the 2025/26 financial year.

Picture: Pixabay.com

CAPE TOWN - Parliament's Health Committee wants to hit the road running early in the new year to conclude public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.

The Bill will enable government to meet its goal of universal health coverage, similar to that offered by the United Kingdom's National Health Service, but it is highly contested.

Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize said the NHI will only be fully implemented by 2026, while Treasury has estimated that rolling out NHI will cost an additional R33 billion a year from the beginning of the 2025/26 financial year.

Parliament's Health Committee chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo is in charge of steering the NHI Bill through the National Assembly, a task that has seen his committee crisscrossing five provinces for public hearings so far, namely: Mpumalanga, the Northern and Eastern Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

Dhlomo said the committee will visit the remaining provinces of North West, Free State, Gauteng and Western Cape in the new year.

"Our target is to finish public hearings in provinces before the State of the Nation Address (Sona) in February. After the Sona we will then have the space and time to bring all other people who have written to us wanting to make their submissions in Parliament, so we will then have the space for them to come through."

Dhlomo added he's happy with the level of understanding of the NHI Bill that people showed during the public hearings, while at the same time, noting their concerns.

"Others were saying, 'but will this NHI answer our concerns about the long queues we see in hospitals? will it answer our questions regarding the shortage of staff and medicines and all those processes?' Others were saying 'this thing must happen quickly, we have been waiting for it for many months and we would like it done.'"

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