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Sowetans worried about quality of healthcare

Slindile Mbhele was one of the Soweto residents attending the NHI hearings.
Slindile Mbhele was one of the Soweto residents attending the NHI hearings.

Soweto residents have told a parliamentary committee on health that they are tired of poor public healthcare.

Hundreds of residents who attended the hearings into the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill in Dlamini, Soweto, yesterday raised a number of concerns on public health facilities.

They highlighted their daily struggles with public hospitals and clinics.

Most community members expressed hope that the bill would change the healthcare system, and correct the injustices and inequalities that currently exist.

Resident Slindile Mbele said some of the practices in the private sector had a direct impact on the public sector.

"The bill will not take away the right of the people to choose where they would like to access healthcare, but will mean the healthcare they receive will be as good as that of private hospitals," Mbele said.

She said the NHI would also allow healthcare to be accessed beyond provincial or regional boundaries.

"We will be able to get access to doctors from wherever we are in the country because our information will be in a national database," she said.

Philile Bongwe said the private healthcare sector had become an authority unto itself.

"There needs to be regulation when it comes to pricing of medication and treatment. This can only be done if the NHI is implemented.

"It will also help in moving with the 4th Industrial Revolution where everything will be paperless," she said.

Patricia Khumalo, another resident, said the NHI e-health system piloted in Johannesburg was beneficial.

"We already see how it will work, and how it is having a positive impact on service delivery," she said.

However, Simon Mohale, a resident from Senaone, was sceptical of the current system.

"We spend so much time waiting in queues in clinics.

"We as pensioners suffer a lot," she said.

Former Joburg health MMC Dr Mpho Phalatse said she was against the implementation of the bill in its current form .

"We are not opposed to it [NHI], we agree we need equal access to quality healthcare, but cannot ignore the glaring problems in the [ current] system."

Parliament's health committee chairperson Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo said he was appreciative of all the views.

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