Attempts to slow down finalisation of NHI rejected – COSATU

Federation says the basis for calls from civil society is substantially flawed and devoid of the facts

COSATU Rejects attempts to slow down the finalisation of the NHI Bill

27 November 2018

COSATU Rejects calls from “pro-poor” civil society organisations for Cabinet to send the NHI Bill back to the Department of Health, COSATU views this as a blatant effort to slow down the implementation of the of the NHI policy for the poor and working class that are in desperate need of quality health care services implementation of the NHI is a non-negotiable as public health services deteriorate significantly to the point of near collapse. The claims in the media that the public comment process has been rushed could not be further from the truth. This is a renewed attempt by the detractors of the NHI to remove the policy and any enabling legislation off the table, while the South African Health system continues to be in crises as a result of underfunding as well as a lack of health care professionals in the public sector.

The leaked letter from the National treasury that has been cited as the basis of the call to withdraw the bill from cabinet has been later qualified by National treasury as a part of ongoing engagements to ensure policy coherence. Further to that National treasury reports that substantial progress on key areas of the NHI bill has been reached and many of the issues raised by National Treasury has been substantially addressed. Therefore the basis for calls from civil society is substantially flawed and devoid of the facts.

The reports by the DG of health of “sidelining” are a cause for concern and correctly reported a clear break in ranks. COSATU urges the DG of health as the accountable officer for the Department of Health to work more effectively with the Presidency  to achieve Universal Health Coverage. The spats in the mainstream media take us backwards and deny the poor and the working class of their rights to quality health care. President Cyril Ramaphosa is providing leadership and stewardship on the NHI process and has reiterated the commitment of the entire South African Government to overcome the two-tier health system.

The NHI Bill brings South Africans a step closer to the realisation of Universal Health coverage. The NHI bill seeks to establish the NHI fund and set out its powers, functions and governance structures to provide a framework for the active purchasing of health care services by the fund on behalf of the final users. The Bill also sets out to create mechanisms for the equitable, effective and efficient utilisation of the fund’s resources in order to meet the needs of the population and to limit undesirable and unethical conduct in relation with the NHI fund.

COSATU cannot emphasise enough the urgency in the implementation of the NHI in the face of the quadruple disease burden as well as the triple challenge of poverty, unemployment and inequality. COSATU therefore rejects any attempt to slow down the implementation of the NHI bill and any progressive enabling legislation.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 27 November 2018