Apartheid era public sector was better than today’s private sector — Letlape

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The standard of healthcare in South Africa‘s public hospitals pre-1994 was better than what is currently experienced in the private sector today, Dr Kgosi Letlape, outgoing president of the Health Professions Council of SA, said in a Radio 702 interview.

“The public health-care sector under apartheid  [was] even better than what we have inside the private sector today. Sometimes people overlook the fact that the private sector is too expensive and is not necessarily efficient, and it is not affordable for many people … [which was] destroying the livelihood of practitioners working in this sector.’’

Iol reports that in an interview with 702 ahead of him leaving the HPCSA after 10 years (five years as president), he stressed that the inequalities persist. “All of us say this is post-94, this is a new dispensation, apartheid is dead. But in health care, apartheid is alive and well,’’ he said.

“It is destroying professional autonomy and has become corporatised. You have institutions that decide which doctor will work and which doctor won’t work. We have preferred provider mechanisms and they discriminate against practitioners. We must not fall into this slumberland of thinking that our private sector is working well.’’

Letlape said that many cases involving re-surgery and complaints emanated from the private sector.

Letlape said that an under-resourced public health sector was a major problem for South Africa and that he didn’t understand why people sought to compare the private health-care sector with the public system, considering they have almost eightfold the resources per capita: “Why would you want to compare yourself with something that is funded that badly?’’

“When I started bringing new technologies here in the public sector, those that were in private would come back into the public sector for training. We’ve now in certain disciplines have things are routine and new technologies that are available.’’

IoL reports that Letlape, who is not shy to speak his mind, once accused former president Thabo Mbeki and the late Manto Tshabalala-Msimang of genocide for failing to act on Aids and said medical aids were a crime against humanity that should be done away with.

Letlape, the first black person to qualify as an ophthalmologist in South Africa, added that the private health-care sector was too expensive and is “is destroying professional autonomy and has become corporatised. You have institutions that decide which doctor will work and which doctor won’t work. They have preferred provider mechanisms and they discriminate against practitioners.”

Full IoL report

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