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Western Cape Health MEC says NHI will make provinces ‘useless and dysfunctional’

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With public hearings on the National Health Insurance (NHI) set to come to the Western Cape in February, the province has expressed its lack of confidence on the proposed financing system, arguing the centralisation of services as suggested by the NHI Bill could result in deterioration of quality of health services instead of improving them.

According to a Times Select report, Western Cape Health MEC Nomafrench Mbombo said the proposed insurance would render provinces ‘useless’ and make them dysfunctional entities like Eskom, as it would take away the role of senior managers such as heads of departments and district heads. “We don’t accept NHI in this form, but we support universal health coverage. How will the national Department of Health monitor quality of services in district hospitals, for instance? If a patient at Khayelitsha Hospital complicates and needs urgent attention who will be responsible for quality of services there or complaints? According to the current Bill, everything is supposed to be monitored by the national government and not provinces,” she said.

Mbombo said under NHI it would be difficult to treat illnesses that are caused by social ills as every illness is expected to have a diagnostic code. “Under NHI not only are services nationalised, but everything is treated biomedically,” she said. While the Western Cape insists that it will take a different approach to NHI – as allowed by the Constitution and the Health Act – the new Western Cape Health head, Dr Keith Cloete, said the province would work together with both national and other provincial health departments to find workable solutions.

Full Times Select report

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