City of CT: NHI will bring healthcare to its knees

But the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the National Health Insurance is what could make or break the proposal.


CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town on Friday said the proposed National Health Insurance would bring primary healthcare to its knees.

The city believes the proposal has only caused uncertainty and fear.

It was responding to the public hearings facilitated by Parliament earlier this week.

Mayco member for health and community service Zahid Badroodien said they supported universal healthcare.

But the cloud of uncertainty that hangs over the National Health Insurance is what could make or break the proposal.

Badroodien said the bill in its current form ignored core primary healthcare components, which include promotive, preventative and curative care.

He said they were still in the dark about the effects of the NHI on thousands of residents reliant on the services offered by municipal clinics.

The city’s clinics manage patients with HIV, TB, hypertension, provides childcare, maternal care and dispenses chronic medications.

It was also the first point of contact with the health sector for many, he said.

The biggest objection for the city is the NHI’s proposal to have national government as the sole purchaser of healthcare services. That in effect means nationalising healthcare in South Africa.

At the same time, Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Health will this weekend conduct public hearings on the National Health Insurance Bill in Beaufort West.

The Central Karoo District Municipality is hosting the fourth leg of the NHI hearings in the Western Cape.

The session will be held at the Beaufort West Youth Hub on Saturday morning.

Parliament's Health Portfolio Committee has called on residents in Beaufort West and surrounding areas to attend Saturday's public hearings and express their views on the Bill.

Committee Chairperson Sibongiseni Dhlomo has assured all South Africans, they'll consider all submissions and views in Parliament, after the public participation process wraps up.

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 would 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.

The committee has been conducting public hearings in the Western Cape since the start of this week.

The West Coast District Municipality hosted the first leg, followed by the City of Cape Town's Khayelitsha township and the Eden District municipality.