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HomeMedico-LegalRefugees and asylum-seekers have ‘constitutional right’ to NHI care

Refugees and asylum-seekers have ‘constitutional right’ to NHI care

The argument that National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill discriminates against the constitutional rights of asylum seekers' and refugees' access to healthcare services, found a sympathetic parliamentary ear in the form of Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Health, writes MedicalBrief.

Cape Times reports that the civic organisation, the Scalabrini Centre, criticised the Bill in a submission to the , saying while it mentioned asylum seekers and refugees, they were not afforded the same rights to healthcare. Currently, the Bill states that an asylum seeker or illegal foreigner is only entitled to emergency medical services and services for notifiable conditions of public health concern.

Scalabrini’s James Chapman said: “Refugees and asylum seekers have the right to the same basic healthcare and emergency healthcare services as South Africans. To address health problems, you need to be inclusive, particularly if you're vulnerable. For example, the COVID-19 vaccine was extended to all, even undocumented migrants and the homeless, because to address health effectively you need an inclusive approach. The Bill should be amended to express and make clear provision for asylum seekers and special permit holders.”

Committee chairperson Dr Kenneth Jacobs said Chapman made a strong case for the vulnerable, “emphasising that these groups need to have access to healthcare in SA under the NHI”.



Cape Times Pressreader article – Grant asylum seekers and refugees right to NHI – call (Open access)


See more from MedicalBrief archives:


Battle looms over migrant rights to access NHI services


The rights to NHI access by migrants are not absolute — HSRC director


Mkhize says a 'hard fight' ahead to improve SA's 'low quality ‘ healthcare


SAMA's warnings on NHI Bill met with hostility



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