NEHAWU supports the NHI Bill
15 August 2019
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] welcomes the introduction of the National Health Insurance [NHI] Bill to Parliaments Portfolio Committee [PC] on Health. NEHAWU also supports the establishment of the NHI fund.
We view this as a victory for struggles waged by the workers and the poor for an affordable and quality health care for all. The NHI will guarantee that all South Africans have access to free, comprehensive and quality healthcare in the country’s health facilities. Access to health is a right enshrined in our constitution.
NEHAWU welcomes the strides made by our government especially the Department of Health towards the full implementation of the NHI. The release of the NHI bill is long overdue and as the national union we strongly believe that the immediate and full implementation of the NHI will help to mitigate all the struggles encountered by the public health sector.
The NHI will provide universal access to quality affordable health care for all South Africans regardless of their ability to pay. Currently, the private sector spends 4.4% of GDP which only benefits 16% of the population. While the public sector spends 4.1% of GDP to the remaining 84% of the population. The NHI seeks to correct the deeply entrenched inequalities in the health system. Healthcare has become a commodity that only the privileged few can afford and it is no longer a right to everyone.
The NHI will assist with the following:
- Access to healthcare for rural communities
- Better and improved medical equipment in healthcare institutions
- Dismantling the two tier health system
- Access to medical specialist and dentists for all
- The NHI will reduce the cost of private healthcare
- Ensure adequate staffing of healthcare institutions to shorten waiting time and increase the quality of healthcare provided
The national union vehemently reject the misguided notion that the country will not be able to afford the NHI. We strongly believe that through present government healthcare funding, funds that government spends on tax subsidies for medical aid members, contributions from people who are presently members of medical aids, contributions from those earn well but resort to not joining medical aids. Through low administrative costs and high efficiency from healthcare providers the NHI will become the success it is destined to be.
The private healthcare system has taken advantage of the poor quality of public healthcare system to impose extortionate charges which have led to the suffering of poor sick people and catastrophic impoverishment of scores of working class households. It is for this reason that NEHAWU is opposed to the detractors of the NHI which include big hospital groups, medical aid companies and the Democratic Alliance [DA]. NEHAWU will use everything in its disposal in the fight to defend the NHI and the right of our people to access healthcare. The DA and their ilks must not for a second think that we will fold our arms while they seek to reverse the gains of our revolution. We will wage a relentless war against anyone who seeks to block the implementation of the NHI.
The national union is currently in the process of mobilising all its allies and society at large in defence of the NHI. In this regard, a series of meetings will be convened with the “Friends of the NHI” which includes our federation Congress of South African Trade Union [COSATU] and the vanguard of our revolution the South African Communist Party [SACP] to mount a solid defence for the NHI. We call on the African National Congress [ANC] to also defend the NHI as a resolution taken at the 52nd National Conference in Polokwane.
We hope that the implementation will begin as soon as possible and that government will not bow down to pressure from private hospital groups and medical aid companies. In this regard, we call on the parliament to move with speed to enact the NHI bill as an Act of Parliament for implementation to take place as a matter of urgency. Our parliament must not bow down from pressure from the detractors of the NHI who are profit driven but rather prioritise the healthcare of our people.
The national union will convene a seminar on the NHI in September as part of its healthy living campaign. The seminar will also look at the imperatives of Primary Healthcare and Infrastructural support mechanisms as part of partaking in the transformation of the health sector in the country.
Issued by Khaya Xaba, National Spokesperson, NEHAWU, 15 August 2019