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NHI Implementation Unit on the Cards

July 16, 2019

Department of Health

16 July 2019

A National Health Insurance Implementation Unit is to be set up.

The health minister, Dr Zweli Mkhize, announced this during the health department’s 2019 Budget Vote Speech in parliament.

Cabinet approved the Draft NHI Bill last week for tabling in parliament.

The cabinet statement confirmed that inputs received during the consultation phase have been incorporated into the draft bill.

According to cabinet, the proposed legislation “will give effect to the NDP that seeks to provide for universal quality healthcare services to all South Africans, irrespective of their socio-economic background. It will be based on values of justice, fairness and social solidarity”.

In the budget vote speech, the minister confirmed that the structure of the health department will be reorganized to support the implementation of the NHI.

He described NHI as a “way of providing good healthcare for all by sharing the money available for healthcare among all our people. The health benefits that you receive will depend on how sick you are, not on how wealthy you are”.

The envisaged Implementation Unit will “form the embryo of the National Health Insurance Fund and a platform for capacity building for staff”.

The minister indicated that the Health Patient Registration System has been developed with 42,6 million users currently on the system and all South Africans to be registered by the end of this financial year.

Work has commenced to set up a Digital Health Information Platform to support the operations of the NHI Fund.

Capacity of managers to implement the NHI will be strengthened using bilateral agreements with Japan (JICA), UK (DFID), French government and EU funds amongst others.

“We have identified over 30 managers who will leave within the next four weeks to learn about NHI in different countries as well as anchors who will make implementation sustainable throughout the country”.

Interventions in the pipeline to improve the health services as part of steps to introduce NHI include equitable funding for the public health sector, addressing staff shortages, improving supply of medicines to prevent stock outs, quality improvement, improving management and governance, infrastructure build and stakeholder management.

According to the minister, it will be “impossible to convince the public about the virtues of NHI unless the health infrastructure is rebuilt as a matter of urgent priority”.