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New WC Health head takes a different tack from DA provincial govt on NHI Bill

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The new head of Western Cape Health appears to hold a different view on the NHI Bill than that of his political masters in the Democratic Alliance provincial government, writes MedicalBrief.

In the week that Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said the NHI Bill would render provinces “useless” and make them dysfunctional entities like Eskom, Dr Keith Cloete, the new HoD of the Western Cape Health Department, said “we (the department) believe in the NHI Bill..”.

A Daily Maverick analysis says that Cloete made it clear he intends to stay on course and wants to strengthen the systems already in place and deepen the gains made by his predecessor Dr Beth Engelbrecht.

The report says Cloete did not elaborate on the province’s universal health coverage (UHC) strategy, but last year during a presentation on the department’s draft UHC framework of action he advocated for a move away from multiple players towards a collaborative whole in the best interest of all patients.

Making the link with the National Health Insurance Bill, this week he said: “We believe that is how we give effect to the intent, we (the department) believe in the NHI Bill. We believe universal health coverage is the strategy we have to take.”

The report says the DA-led Western Cape government has always been clear about its support for universal healthcare for all, but is critical of the NHI Bill as the means to attain it.

Cloete’s appointment was officially announced during a press conference at the District Six Community Health Centre on Thursday 23 January. Cloete will take over the reins on 1 April from Engelbrecht, who occupied the position for the last six years (since 2014).

The report says he made it clear that he wants his five-year term to be about fostering good relationships between stakeholders in the health sector as well as serving others. Cloete believes more collaboration between stakeholders is important to achieve UHC.

“It’s about relationships, it’s about interconnection, and that everyone has a voice. That means we need to be able to listen to community voices that tell us where we should go with universal health coverage.”

Full Daily Maverick report

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