Malema’s concerns about the NHI bill

EFF leader Julius Malema is concerned about the state of public health facilities. File photo.
EFF leader Julius Malema is concerned about the state of public health facilities. File photo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

EFF leader Julius Malema has shared his concerns about the controversial National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, saying most beneficiaries do not have access to health facilities close to them. 

The National Assembly approved the contested bill last week. Health minister Joe Phaahla said its implementation would ensure South Africans without medical aid would have access to health facilities nearest to them, including private hospitals. 

Speaking on the Sunday Times podcast, Malema said he was concerned some health facilities are not in a better condition.

“My biggest concern with the NHI is you have to go to a health facility that is close to you to be a beneficiary of such a policy but we know most people have no such facilities next to them, and if they are they are not in a better condition,” he said. 

Malema said “where there is a political will there will always be a political way” to finance the bill. 

“There is a political will. We have passed the first lake. It may not be as perfect as we want it to be but once you pass the first lake, we will find the money, through the state, to finance this important policy that will address primary healthcare,” he said. 

In a statement last week, the EFF called the bill “a catastrophic development in the midst of the ongoing collapse of the public health sector”.

“The NHI in rhetoric sets out to right the wrongs of inequality, access to healthcare, and delivering universal healthcare coverage while in essence it is far from those aspirations,” said EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo. 

“On countless occasions, the EFF has highlighted problematic clauses within the bill and its fundamental position on the developing of a national funding pool. This is precisely because the health system of our country does not need a National Student Financial Aid Scheme-style funding system to resolve the crisis of debilitating healthcare that plagues our country.”

He said the system proposed by the NHI bill was unsustainable, as the country had witnessed before with many programmes of the ANC government that “ease the corrupt desires of politicians and the private sector”.

“In its true form, the NHI is an overt admittance by the ANC government of its failure to build a working health system for our people. They have thus resolved to outsource healthcare and our people's wellbeing to the private sector.

“At the centre of the private sector's priority, with regard to healthcare, is the ability to source profit. This priority of the private sector will not diminish only because the government is now the customer. If anything, it will be aggravated as the internal systems developed in the NHI bill are not cognisant of this, nor are they able to provide a sustainable solution to this,” said Thambo. 

He said a concerning requirement of the NHI was the “referral system”.

“With this clause, it insists all persons should go to their nearest health facility for medical intervention. This means people living in rural areas, townships and informal settlements will still be subjected to the diabolic state of public hospitals and clinics, while the affluent and those in cosmopolitan areas will have the utmost benefit due to their proximity to private institutions.”


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