Aaron Motsaoledi: “The NHI is not going to kill the private sector”
South Africa's health minister says the National Health Insurance is not going to kill the private sector but rather make it available to all sectors of the population
The Africa Report: Are you happy with the current budget allocation from the treasury?
Aaron Motsaoledi: Well, yes, under the present fiscal space it is better than nothing. We do understand the fiscal space in which the country finds itself, so we believe the fact that something was given to us is good, because there are people who believe they can wish National Health Insurance (NHI) away. I don’t know why some South Africans still believe they can wish it away, NHI is no longer just a South African dream, it’s a global dream. It’s also there in the National Development Plan. It’s clearly written in clear words that we need one pool of funds for all South Africans to finance their healthcare, unlike the present system where we’ve got one pool of financing that covers only 16% of the population.
What are the plans to bring the private sector on board?
There is always this claim, and I believe it’s deliberate because the private sector has got good quality care and the public sector is struggling, which we want to correct. Now they use that problem to try and incite society against NHI by saying we are going to kill the private sector. That has never been our intention. It’s not in any policy documents. South Africa has got two healthcare systems; one private, one public. We want the population to have access to both, that’s what NHI is all about. The NHI is not going to kill the private sector but rather make it available to all sectors of the population. No right-thinking person can ever say that’s wrong. I will give you an example. There is a private hospital in Gauteng, it has more gynaecologists than the whole of Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the whole of the North West added together. Now what type of country is that?
And you are determined that in your lifetime we are going to have the NHI?
We have got no option. My detractors say and keep on repeating that unless the economy is growing you can’t have NHI. We have got good examples around the world. The British introduced their universal health coverage in 1948. What was happening in Britain in 1948? It was three years after the Second World War.