Top economics students give views on NHI

Thabang Khumalo
Thabang Khumalo

Thabang Khumalo had to helplessly watch his father struggle to get proper medical assistance at a hospital in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga.

Khumalo, 23, a BCom economics student at the University of Limpopo, hopes the government will pass the NHI bill to help people from disadvantaged backgrounds, like his father.

"I remember that morning we called an ambulance for my father who was very sick. It never came; we were forced to hire a taxi and drive 20 minutes to the local hospital.

"When we got there he further stayed for another 20 minutes at the reception with no help. Sadly two days after, he passed away and I believe that if he got proper medical care maybe his life could have been spared," Khumalo said.

Khumalo is one of 20 students in the finals of the Nedbank and Old Mutual budget speech competition which culminates with the delivery of the national budget speech today.

The NHI, which is something Khumalo never gave much though to before his father's incident, is one of the issues the group got an opportunity to share their views on.

"I know that with the passing of this bill people can afford proper medical assistance and it can address the issues of our public hospitals. Government can also source good doctors for rural clinics and hospitals."

Sechaba Mokobane, a postgraduate economics student at Stellenbosch University, said even though it will be a challenge to implement NHI on a practical level, it made a lot of sense.

"We already have a private sector that is functioning well and NHI will potentially replace that. If they are able to get it right, it will make healthcare more affordable for people from poor communities."

The economics students, both graduate and postgraduate, from seven different universities, were required to submit essays responding to current socioeconomic challenges.

Undergraduates had to make a case for and against investing in SA while postgraduates had to write an essay on President Cyril Ramaphosa's initiatives to stimulate economic growth. The question was what they think the likely outcome will be in terms of the shared aims of lifting growth and creating more jobs.

This year's winner will win more than R400,000 in prize money handed over by deputy minister of finance David Masondo at a gala dinner tonight.

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