The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] notes with serious concern the utterance attributed to the Minister of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, that the roll out of the National Health Insurance [NHI] could be delayed because the department has to reprioritise its budget.
The Minister was addressing the media on the side-lines of the University of Stellenbosch University Business event this morning. During his address the Minister revealed that Treasury has cut budget allocation to the health department by R9 billion since 2015 whilst state subsidies and medical tax credits for private healthcare users grew by R11 billion.
The introduction of the NHI became a resolution of the ruling party since the 52nd National Conference held in 2007. Yet, eleven years later the implementation of the NHI has not taken place and government continues to push back the implementation date. As far as we are concerned, the ANC has the task of ensuring that the implementation of the NHI is a priority of government and must also ensure that legislative frame-work on the NHI is finalised as soon as possible.
The Presidential Health Summit held on the 19-20 October 2018 underscored the imperativeness of the principle of one country, one health system that serve the whole population which ensures the Universal Health Coverage hence the full implementation National Health Insurance [NHI]. We are therefore confounded by this utterance by the Minister.
According to the Minister, the funds intended for implementation of NHI will be redirected to recruit over 2000 healthcare workers and purchase beds and linen for hospital who do not have any as part of the reforms included in the stimulus package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa on the 21st September 2018.
Our National Executive Committee [NEC] took a decision to pick a fight against Treasury especially its orientation in year 2019. The Minister claims that Treasury has paralysed the department by cutting its budget and this has adversely affected the building and maintenance of infrastructure and human resources. The national union strongly believes that the cutting of the health budget is a huge blunder considering the poor state of the public healthcare sector. Once again, we want to reiterate that we will forge ahead full steam with our NEC decision to mobilize our members, engaging COSATU and SACP including communities to support our intention to change the orientation of Treasury.
NEHAWU calls on government to implement the NHI as soon as possible for the benefit of the working class and poor. We also call on government to stop issuing licenses for private hospitals as this continues to undermine the very objectives of the NHI in particular universe health coverage. The national union is worried about the continued delay in the absorption of the Community Health Workers which strongly undermines government’s efforts to establish a firm foundation for the National Health Insurance through a properly functional primary health care system.
We shall not tolerate any more delay in the implementation of the NHI and we are prepared to mobilise as wide as possible to defend the right of the working class and poor to have access to decent healthcare.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za