The healthcare system fails to provide quality care for the majority of citizens, Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi has said.
“In South Africa, costly private healthcare for the privileged few provides for 16% (of the population),” he said at a business briefing hosted by The New Age today.
The remaining 84% had to make do with “second-rate” care, while in the US the situation was reversed.
“This means the US’s healthcare system has thrown out 16% of the population, whereas in South Africa the healthcare system is throwing out 84% of the population,” he said in a live broadcast on SABC2.
The proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) system sought to rectify this, in line with citizens’ right to access affordable, good-quality healthcare irrespective of socioeconomic status.
Motsoaledi said the name was problematic because “the ‘insurance’ part does not reflect exactly what we want to achieve”.
Rather, it should be approached as “universal health coverage”.
“Many South Africans wrongly believe something is only wrong in our country as far as healthcare is concerned.”
Whereas, healthcare faced significant problems globally.
These included rising costs and poor access to generic medications, an overemphasis on cure instead of prevention and insufficient regulatory control.
Regulation in private healthcare had two facets: the funders being medical aid schemes and the healthcare providers.
In terms of funders, Motsoaledi said a lack of regulation meant he could not intervene as health minister.
“If you come to me and say, ‘they charged me R50 000 for a small operation’, there is nothing I can absolutely do, even though I know very obviously they are ripping you off, because there is no regulation.”
The design of most healthcare systems favoured the rich and punished the poor, which threatened sub-Saharan Africa’s ability to achieve the UN’s health-related millennium development goals by 2015.
“Unless there is good quality in public healthcare, and unless the costs are brought down in private healthcare, this whole concept of universal healthcare will never find leverage in our country.”
Motsoaledi still had one arm in a sling on Thursday after undergoing surgery at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria last month.
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